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'We Can't Enact Our Agenda Without Seats at the Table': Tens of Thousands Sign Petition Demanding Powerful Ways and Means Committee Seat for Ocasio-Cortez

"If you're ready for Medicare for All, lower drug prices, and a fair economy for everyone, this is our chance to put a progressive leader in an important position of power."

Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks at a rally on October 1, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Recognizing that a bold agenda cannot advance if corporate Democrats have a stranglehold on the committees that determine whether legislation move forward or collapse, a coalition of progressive groups representing millions of Americans has launched a pressure campaign urging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to appoint Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

"Democrats must not be allowed to give Wall Street and Big Pharma veto power over what comes out of the powerful Ways and Means Committee."
—Progressive Coalition

"It's time for party leaders' actions to match campaign rhetoric. This means a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, expanding Social Security, lowering prescription drug prices, and the rest of the progressive agenda. But we can't enact our agenda without seats at the table," declares a new petition sponsored by Social Security Works, Progressive Democrats of America, and nearly a dozen other organizations.

"For too long," the petition continues, "the Ways and Means Committee has been where progressive legislation goes to die. In order to meet this progressive moment, we demand the appointment of Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to the Ways and Means Committee."

As of this writing, the petition has over 44,000 signatures.

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As the House's key tax-writing body, as Common Dreams previously reported, Ways and Means will have enormous power over every central policy goal of the Democratic Party's growing progressive wing—from Medicare for All to a Green New Deal to tuition-free public college.

By vying for a seat on the powerful committee—a spot freshmen are almost never given—Ocasio-Cortez is taking on Wall Street Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative.

"If this November's elections showed us anything, it's that people are ready for fresh, bold, progressive leadership in Congress."
—Karli Wallace Thompson, Democracy for America

Democrats, argues the coalition of progressive groups campaigning on behalf of Ocasio-Cortez, "must not be allowed to give Wall Street and Big Pharma veto power over what comes out of the powerful Ways and Means Committee."

If Ocasio-Cortez ultimately succeeds in attaining a Ways and Means seat, she will have to contend with incoming committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who has denounced Medicare for All as "not realistic" while raking in millions of dollars in insurance industry donations.

"If this November's elections showed us anything, it's that people are ready for fresh, bold, progressive leadership in Congress—and Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embodies that," Karli Wallace Thompson, senior digital manager at Democracy for America, wrote in an email to supporters on Tuesday. "Alexandria is boldly pushing for this position because she firmly believes that Americans deserve to have someone who has shared their struggles representing their interests on the committee that oversees most of the economy, including taxes and revenue."

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