Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez failed in its long bid for a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, according to an announcement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday night. Pelosi has appointed a member of the NDP Coalition, the party's centrist wing, in place of his seat, which is part of an impressive set of victories won by the pro-Wall Street caucus.
However, Ocasio-Cortez wants a solid consolation prize: a place on the House's Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction on Wall Street. Sources close to the process stated that it would also be likely that Katie Porter, D-Calif., Financial Services Expert, Progressive Caucus Member, would be retained for the committee, and that Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., And Ayanna Pressley, D -Masse., Are in the running. This would be a powerful bloc of progressives in a large committee led by California representative Maxine Waters.
Democrats have struggled to find many members in financial services, suggesting that the party would reduce the size of the committee. Alternatively, this dilemma could cause progressives to be added as a last resort.
The impending announcement by the Financial Services Commission will dispel many disappointments for the rising stars of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who on Wednesday were largely denied new appointments to three critical committees where they wanted to be more represented.
The Progressive Caucus had an agreement with Pelosi to increase representation on so-called money committees that manage most national laws. They wanted to sit on the committees of ways and means, energy and trade, credit and financial services, equivalent to about 40% of their composition in the Democratic caucus.
Members of the Progressive Caucus received several new assignments announced Wednesday night, but reached only 40% of the votes and means, for which progressives had already reached the 40% threshold at the previous Congress. Currently, the total average is 38.3% for all three, but will rise to 41.8% if three committee members join the CCP as planned.
According to figures provided by the Progressive Caucus, the number of members increasing from Ways and Means has increased from 42% to 54%. Energy and trade went from 29% to 31% and loans remained stable at 36%.
Progressives have also called for increased representation on the Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over Wall Street, whose composition remains to be determined. So far, however, the most prominent personalities of the caucus have not received new attributions from the three main committees. Ocasio-Cortez; Tlaib; CPC Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. and Ro Khanna, Vice President, D-Calif., all insisted that finance committees be integrated. Justice Democrats led an outdoor campaign on their behalf and other organizations took part in petition campaigns and went to the Pelosi office. None of this has been successful, showing the limits of an outdoor campaign on an insider question such as assignments to committees.
By customWays and Means, the tax drafting committee, reserves a seat to a member representing one of the five boroughs of New York City. The former holder of this slot was former Queens representative Joe Crowley, defeated by Ocasio-Cortez in a primary election. Ocasio-Cortez sought to replace his predecessor, but House leaders chose Tom Suozzi, a New Democrat who represents the "Gold Coast" of Long Island and a few blocks from Queens.
It's extremely rare in the past for a freshman to win a seat on the committee. In fact, no one has done it this time, which has left people complaining about Ocasio-Cortez's lack of seniority, rather than his politics, for ridicule. But it is also rare that a man from Long Island claims a reserved seat in New York. In addition, Suozzi is only a sophomore, which removes some of the power of the seniority argument. (Although New York City has no representation, Philadelphia has recruited two new members.)
Regional policy has played a key role. "The regional structure is at the heart of the process of distributing committee seats. So I think what we've learned in the Progressive Caucus is that there is no question of asking leaders to go to Nancy Pelosi to ask for seats, "said Representative Jamie Raskin , D-Md. occupying senior positions in the lower ranks of the House in November and sits on the committee that distributes seats among committees. "Like everything else, it's a unionization operation in which you have to organize a movement in each region, because that's where the action is. That said, I think the progressive members have done a good job and are getting better and better in this process, "he said, citing the likelihood that many of them will join financial services.
Any major legislation – be it "Medicare for All", a "Green New Deal" or a free public college – would imply a certain level of income, which would clearly place it in the field of ways and means, which would make it a place of legislative choice that seeks to have an impact. Headquarters is also traditionally sought after for its fundraising potential, as every industry in the country is affected by federal tax policy, which means that committee members are more likely to receive their fundraising appeals. (Suozzi told The Intercept that he was not interested in the committee for this purpose and that he was attracted to it because of his previous career in accounting.)
Jayapal, co-chair of the CPC, also wanted a place in Ways and Means, but her request for a waiver to stay on the Judicial Committee, where she exerts influence because of her leading work on the family separation policy of the Trump administration, was rejected. "Representative Jayapal had made it clear from the outset that she would only request an assignment on the Ways and Means Committee if she could obtain a waiver to continue to serve on the Judiciary Committee," said her spokesperson. Vedant Patel. "She was informed that no derogation would be granted to the Judiciary Committee, given the opportunity to do so at this important time. In view of this, Representative Jayapal is pleased to remain on the Judiciary Committee and continue to bring her experience of critical issues to the Committee. "
Khanna, vice president of the CCP, also failed in his attempt to obtain a seat of ways and means. The Intercept asked him if he thought his public battle on Twitter with Pelosi spokesperson, Drew Hammill, about the economy of pay-go, a measure of fiscal austerity that Pelosi had inscribed in the rules of the House, had something to do with the decision. "Drew wishes he has so much power here," Khanna said. "I wish Drew to have more discussions about the economy with Paul Krugman and me."
This is not accurate and no serious progressive economist agrees with you. We could adopt policies in the House without compensation, and then negotiate the appropriate tax increases on the 1% in conference. We should not negotiate against ourselves! https://t.co/mAbOYQN09i
– Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) January 2, 2019
The Progressive Caucus' request for a 40% representation was thwarted by the very composition of the caucus. There is no real obstacle to membership, and the caucus rarely asks members to vote, which means that members who want to wear a progressive badge without changing their legislative record can do so. Some members of the Progressive Caucus are even affiliated with its centrist counterpoint, the NDP coalition.
Pelosi and the leadership of the House have made clever use of these progressive / New Democracy hybrids by assigning tasks to committees, which may seem cynical from the point of view of leadership, but has only been possible through the loose rules of the Progressive Caucus – rules that are under their own control.
And adding CPC members who are not real progressives to positions of power on committees could actually be a net loss, some members said. Indeed, it institutes a dynamic in which weak legislation could win the imprimatur of an influential member of the CCP, making it more difficult for the CCP to oppose it. A version of this was exposed even with the representative Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., A powerful progressive and former co-president of the CCP. He is now Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and although he ultimately supported the creation of a small committee to review the Green New Deal, it was clear that there was some hesitation about the impact. that would have on his own committee. (Grijalva said he "did not have much concern" about the new committee, and he was not very enthusiastic.)
Instead of claiming proportional representation for a disorganized and amorphous caucus, the CCP should have organized before taking power, said Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for Justice Democrats, who supported Ocasio-Cortez and 39, other freshmen whose offer had been rejected. "The numbers will not make much sense if being progressive means nothing. If everyone has their own definition and now has increased personal power through a seat on the executive committee, accountability to the progressive movement will be more difficult, "Shahid told The Intercept.
Pelosi's decision to appeal to CCP members who are also New Dems members should have been anticipated, he said. "Pelosi has respected the rules of the CCP and appointed some of the least committed progressives among the members of the executive committee, including five CCP members who are also centrist and pro-business members of the NDP caucus. Almost all CPC members appointed to Executive Committees continue to receive corporate donations, "he said.
"Instead of fighting for numbers, the CCP should consider imposing stricter membership criteria – such as the rejection of CAP funds, priority co-sponsoring legislation and the willingness to vote en bloc ", otherwise progressive ideas may be considerably diluted," he said.
Of the 26 New members appointed to the Credit, Energy and Trade and Ways and Means Committees, 13 are members of the Progressive Caucus. However, five of these members are also members of the NDP Coalition: Brenda Lawrence of Michigan (credits), Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware (energy and trade), Darren Soto of Florida (energy and trade), Virginia of Don Beyer (Ways and Means), and Brendan Boyle (Ways and Means) of Pennsylvania, who recently joined the Progressive Caucus.
Blunt Rochester is one of two members of the Progressive Caucus who voted for last year's Deregulation of Banks Bill, one of the few important bipartisan measures adopted by the last Congress. Soto is part of the bipartisan problem-solving group that pushed Pelosi to change the rules of the House to give Republicans a broader voice in the legislation, like Suozzi.
Meanwhile, 15 of the 26 members selected are part of the NDP coalition, which has seen its ranks increase, even as its influence on the national conversation has declined. The coalition, like the CCP, is going through its own identity crisis, as a significant number of its own members have subscribed to ideas such as "Medicare for All," which the coalition is calling for. – even rejects brutally.
The Blue Dog Caucus, another pro-Wall Street group, also slightly outnumbered its finance committees. The 24 members of the Blue Dogs represent only about 10% of the Democratic caucus. But they won four of the 26 newly-allocated seats, including two to co-chairs Stephanie Murphy of Florida (Ways and Means) and Tom O'Halleran of Arizona (Energy and Commerce). The four Blue Dogs to which the seat has been allocated are also members of the NDP.
The only freshmen who have been selected for one of the three main committees are those who return to Congress after serving before. This includes Ann Kirkpatrick (Appropriations) of Arizona, a new dem; Steven Horsford of Nevada (Ways and Means), member of the Progressive Caucus; and Ed Case of Hawaii (Appropriations), which is currently affiliated with neither caucus, but has a deeply conservative policy.
Other members of the Progressive Caucus who obtained seats on these exclusive committees were Lois Frankel of Florida and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey (credits); Nanette Barragán of California (Energy and Trade); and Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Dan Kildee of Michigan and Jimmy Panetta of California (Ways and Means).
Moore has given way to the Financial Services Committee to take the place of ways and means. Panetta has joined the Progressive Caucus after the election and Kildee plans to become one.
Representatives Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., Also considering joining the CCP. Engel, who is based at Energy and Commerce, represents a district comprising part of the Bronx; Kaptur, a member of Appropriations, has a generally progressive policy on economic issues, but has long been one of the most strident anti-choice voices in the House, retiring recently from this stance. The additions of Kildee, Kaptur and Engel increase the percentages of CPC members in the main committees, but it is difficult to relate this to the spirit of CPC's request. Engel, after all, is a New Democrat, so the CCP has not named a new member in the areas of energy and trade; CPC instead added a new member who was already working for Energy and Commerce and a new Dem.
The Democratic Congress campaign committee also snubbed the progressives, filling its leadership team with centrist Democrats. DCCC President Cheri Bustos announced on Wednesday the appointment of the new Recruitment Committee Chairs and Frontline Program Officers to protect members in pivoting seats. All of them are New Democrats. Pete Aguilar of California, Val Demings of Florida and Donald McEachin of Virginia, who have all been appointed Chairs of the Board, are New Democrats. California's friend Bera, Suzan DelBene of Washington and Brad Schneider of Illinois, all New Democrats, have been involved in managing the Frontline program.
The good news for progressives in the House is that nothing matters – not this round of the Congress, anyway. As long as the Senate is headed by Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., And that the White House is occupied by Donald Trump, a Green New Deal has bigger hurdles than New Dems. But the structures put in place today will determine the conditions for legislative activity in 2021, by which time it could start counting if the Democrats take over the White House. It will be the responsibility of outside activists to monitor the legislative behavior of members of dual loyalty committees.
Here are the new members of the House committee announced Wednesday night:
Committee on Energy and Commerce
Committee of ways and means