Liberal groups launch effort to get progressives on key House committees

A coalition of progressive organizations are launching an effort to push House Democratic leadership to appoint several notable liberal lawmakers to key committees with jurisdiction over economic issues.

The organizations — which include Justice Democrats, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the Democratic Socialists of America — say they want more progressive lawmakers on the committees to keep the Democratic Party accountable to voters rather than corporate donors.

"As nearly every major potential Democratic presidential contender embraces progressive ideas like Medicare For All, free college, and ending mass deportation and incarceration, we need progressive champions on key House committees that would fight to pass these policies under a Democratic administration, not centrists who would simply cave to their big corporate donors," Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said in a statement.

The groups want Democratic leaders to name Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalMoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Blue states buck Trump to expand health coverage Dreamers-for-wall trade going nowhere in House MORE (D-Wash.) and Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDem rep proposes Trump, Congress hire mediators to resolve shutdown Blue states buck Trump to expand health coverage Ocasio-Cortez sparks debate with talk of 70 percent marginal rate MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez rips Trump in first House floor speech: 'It is not normal to shut down the government when we don’t get what we want' On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Supporters leave notes on plaque outside Ocasio-Cortez's office MORE (D-N.Y.) to the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues including taxes, health care, trade and Social Security. The groups want Jayapal to receive a waiver so that she could serve on Ways and Means while also retaining her seat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Jayapal will be a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus next year, and Khanna will be the group's first vice chair. Ocasio-Cortez became a rockstar among progressives when she defeated House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary earlier this year.

A spokeswoman for Khanna confirmed that the congressman is interested in a seat on Ways and Means.

Additionally, the groups want Democratic leaders to name Rep.-elect Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King Florida official refuses to apologize for saying Tlaib might ‘blow up’ Capitol Hill White House's Sanders: King white supremacist comments 'abhorrent' MORE (D-Mich.) to the House Appropriations Committee, which overseas the funding of federal agencies, and Rep.-elect Katie Porter (D-Calif.) to the House Financial Services Committee, which overseas banks, lenders and insurance companies.

Tlaib will be one of the first two Muslim-American women to serve in Congress and is expected to be a leading progressive voice in the incoming freshman class. Porter is a former student and research partner of progressive Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Julián Castro calls for ‘tuition-free’ public colleges, apprenticeships Native American leader asks when US will come to its ‘senses’ after Trump’s ‘racist’ attack against Warren MORE (D-Mass.).

 

Seats on the Appropriations, Ways and Means and Financial Services committees are much-sought-after, and it can be difficult for freshmen members to get appointed to the panels. Members of the more centrist Blue Dog Democrats and New Democrats will also want seats on the committees.

The progressive groups noted that Jayapal reportedly received a commitment from presumed next House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (D-Calif.) to get progressive caucus members more seats on the top committees.

“Imagine what the world would look like if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were in the middle of the discussion about repealing the Trump tax cuts for corporations on Ways & Means," said Adam Green, executive director of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "And if Elizabeth Warren's protégé, Katie Porter, were on the Financial Services Committee holding Wall Street accountable. And if Rashida Tlaib were on Appropriations getting money to places like Flint, Michigan, that have been left behind." 

The groups said that they plan to get members of the public to tweet, call and meet with Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders as part of their effort to get prominent progressives on the committees.

A spokeswoman for Pelosi had no comment on the progressive groups' efforts.