In a bid to shift the balance of power in the next Congress away from Wall Street Democrats and toward lawmakers committed to delivering the bold healthcare, economic, and environmental change that the public is demanding, Justice Democrats on Monday launched a pressure campaign aimed at pushing likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to elevate progressives to seats on the most powerful congressional committees.
To "break Wall Street's stranglehold" over the congressional bodies with the power to craft and fund legislation, Justice Democrats called on Pelosi to appoint:
- Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) to Ways and Means;
- Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to Appropriations;
- Rep.-elect Katie Porter (D-Calif.) to Financial Services;
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) to Ways and Means and Judiciary; and
- Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to Ways and Means.
"Progressive representation on key House committees will decide whether or not we get Medicare for All, free college, a Green New Deal, and end to mass deportation and mass incarceration," reads the Justice Democrats' call to action, which is backed by Social Security Works, Democratic Socialists of America, Demand Progress, and other progressive groups representing millions of Americans.
"Progressive representation on key House committees will decide whether or not we get Medicare for All, free college, a Green New Deal, and end to mass deportation and mass incarceration."
Take part in the social media pressure campaign here.
The ultimate goal of the effort, Justice Democrats declared on Twitter, is to begin forming a "Democratic Party that fights for its voters, not big corporate donors."
"We need everyone to put pressure on the Democratic Party leadership this week," the group added.
Join our call to action here. We need everyone to put pressure on the Democratic Party leadership this week.https://t.co/l8hRBgcozA
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) December 17, 2018
Justice Democrats' campaign is part of a broader push by progressives to seize control of the congressional bodies responsible for funding the bold and popular proposals like a Green New Deal and Medicare for All, which propelled Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and other newly-elected lawmakers to victory over their corporate opponents in the midterm elections.
As Saikat Chakrabarti, chief of staff for Ocasio-Cortez, pointed out, seats on these powerful committees "are typically coveted because they almost guarantee fundraising ability from—you guessed it—big banks and corporations."
"Jayapal, Khanna, and Ocasio-Cortez all reject corporate PAC donations. Let's put them on the most powerful committee in the House to fight for us."
"Ways and Means decides where government gets money from, Appropriations decides how we spend money, and Financial Services decides how to regulate banks. These committees are powerful because they control the money," Chakrabarti explained. "If these committees were to get taken over by progressives pledging to take no corporate money, that would be revolutionary."
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In her bid for a Ways and Means seat, Ocasio-Cortez is taking on Wall Street-friendly New York Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi, who described himself as a fiscal conservative in an interview with The Intercept last month.
This fight between a bold progressive and a corporate Democrat exemplifies the party-wide power struggle between lawmakers wedded to the status quo and those pushing for systemic change to America's brutally unequal—and possibly planet-destroying—healthcare, economic, and energy systems.
According to polling data, the public is overwhelmingly on the side of those pushing for transformational change, with 70 percent of Americans supporting Medicare for All and 82 percent backing a Green New Deal.
But to transform this public support into concrete results, progressives need "seats at the table"—and that's what Justice Democrats and other progressive groups are looking to achieve.
Every Democrat and Republican on the Ways and Means committee takes corporate PAC donations.
Let's put them on the most powerful committee in the House to fight for us.https://t.co/Aj2N9gk8zg
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) December 17, 2018
"We need your help calling on Nancy Pelosi to let her know we need real progressive champions on key House committees to represent the American people," Justice Democrats declared. "Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leaders of the most powerful congressional committees are going to decide whether progressives or corporate-backed centrists will represent us in the fight for economic, racial, social and environmental justice."