Congressional Progressive Caucus

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The Congressional Progressive Caucus was founded in 1991 by Bernie Sanders-the openly socialist then Congressman from Vermont, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the radical Washington DC based "think tank" Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

Many members were and continue to be linked to DSA and/or the Communist Party USA, IPS or other radical organizations.

From small beginnings the CPC has grown to embrace more than 80 members of Congress and three in the Senate - Roland Burris, Bernie Sanders and Tom Udall (NM).

Congressional Progressive Caucus Center

The Congressional Progressive Caucus Center was founded in October 2018 to better connect Congressional Progressive Caucus to the wide "progressive" community.

CPC founders

The Congressional Progressive Caucus was founded in 1991 by freshman Congressman Bernie Sanders. Sanders' CPC co-founders included House members Ron Dellums, Lane Evans, Tom Andrews, Peter DeFazio, and Maxine Waters.

Left Democrats in Search of Anti-Trump Strategy

Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - New York Office March 12 2018·


This weekend, we were honored to be invited to the Congressional Progressive Caucus Strategy Summit in Baltimore, MD. With us came the fist-ever delegation of elected representatives from European left parties, excited to connect with progressive members of the US House, including Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, and Raul Grijalva, as well as with representatives from progressive NGOs and unions. The photo shows our delegation (from left): Sevim Dagdelen from DIE LINKE, David Segal (CPC staff), Albert Scharenberg (RLS–NYC), Eduardo Maura from Podemos, Diane Abbott MP from The Labour Party, Yiannis Bournous from ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α. (Syriza), Alex Main (CEPR), and Ethan Earle (RLS–NYC). Of the people, by the people, for the people!

"The Heart and Soul of the Democratic Party"

On Nov. 15, 2010, Earl Ofari Hutchinson of The Huffington Post and New American Media conducted an interview with Rep. Lynn Woolsey, House Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The interview reads as follows:[1]

Earl: Many are not familiar with the Progressive House Caucus. How big is it?
Lynn: We had 83 members before the election. It is bicameral, with House and Senate members. It's by far the largest caucus in Congress. We lost four members this election. But we also gained a couple of new members. We will not have less than 80 members in the next Congress. The Blue Dog Democrats lost almost two-thirds of their members.
Earl: What are the major issues that the Caucus will press Congress and the Obama Administration on?
Lynn: It is clear that we represent the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. So, the first item is jobs. We have to have a robust jobs bill. One that we should have had when President Obama first took office and his popularity was at its height. He had a big majority in the House and Senate. We would have doubled the amount of money allocated for the jobs bill that came out of the House, which the Senate cut to shreds. The other priority is combating the notion that the timetable for ending the Afghanistan War is 2014. The war is killing our budget, killing our people, and killing our relations with our allies.
Earl: What does it take to make that happen?
Lynn: None of this is going to happen until we get money out of politics, get a bigger control of the media, and that means diversifying ownership beyond the three corporations.
Earl: The headline article in the Washington Post, Nov. 11, was "Liberals plan to push Obama not to compromise with GOP." Will the Progressive Caucus take the lead in pushing the president not to "compromise" with the GOP?
Lynn: We were the most productive House in recent legislative history in getting key pieces of legislation passed. Unfortunately, it was not enough. We were in such a deep economic hemorrhaging. We stopped that. But to do more we have to be even bolder in our actions. We're going to push the White House to come forth with bold steps. It's not too late now. But it will be in two years. So we're hoping that he recognizes that.
Earl: White House advisor David Axelrod was quoted to the effect that Obama would compromise on the "big issues." Did that set off alarm bells with you and the Caucus members?
Lynn: I and Caucus co-chair Raul M. Grijalva sent the President a letter Friday, Nov. 12, that we totally support rolling back the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy. And no cuts in other programs such as food stamps that benefit the poor and needy.
Earl: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberals and progressives as the "professional Left" for continuing to criticize the president despite what he's tried to accomplish.
Lynn: I totally disagreed with him. I've won office with 70 percent of the vote, and there is a large base of voters that are progressive. This is America, and they do have the right to express themselves. And criticism or not of us, we're not going to stop our criticism on policy issues we disagree with. In fact, in line with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the House Pacific Asian Caucus, we will represent a good majority of the Democrats who remain in the House.
Earl: So no compromise on the core issues
Lynn: Any idea that we're going to reach across the aisle and surrender our Democratic ideals on jobs, health care, education, and fighting for working people and not the wealthy is not going to happen. We're not going to compromise our votes to support programs just to appear that we're compromising. We're not going to start from the right of center and go further to the right. That's not what the nation needs.
Earl: There were reports that during the health care debate the White House shunned the Progressive Caucus. How accurate is that?
Lynn: No we were not shunned. I still hear the president saying, "Lynn what's our agenda on health care and what's to be done to secure passage." We took groups of representatives to the White House more than once for meetings. We always had an open-door relationship to work with the president and the House leadership. We intend to continue to work with the president. He will have a hard time getting anything done if he doesn't have us with him. And he knows that.
But we're not going to compromise with the right on some lukewarm programs that should have been much bolder. The public option in the health care fight was a good example of that. We still feel it was given away before the health care debate really began. So we're not going to roll over. Most of our members won reelection, and in some ways we'll have an even bigger voice in the next Congress.
Earl: Nancy Pelosi wants to stay in the House Leadership. Do you support her?
Lynn: I'm 100 percent behind her. None of the accomplishments in this past Congress would have happened without her leadership. They label her as some wild-eyed liberal, but that's just name calling. She's an effective leader. And the administration knows that. I'm confident that she will be our Minority House leader.

Leftist rule changes

The first week of November 2020 the majority of the Congressional Progressive Caucus voted for an overhaul that supporters say will boost the CPC's power on Capitol Hill and potentially push out "free riding members."

The caucus of nearly 100 House Democrats—and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—is restructuring to "shape itself into a more cohesive fighting force come 2021." Politico's Heather Caygle, who also reported on the proposed changes with two colleagues last month, tweeted Monday that of the nearly three-quarters of CPC members who voted on the overhaul, 91% favored it.

The outcome was immediately welcomed by progressive activists and advocacy groups. Former Move On executive director Ilya Sheyman called it "fantastic news" while Matt Stoller of the American Economic Liberties Project pointed out that the changes are "potentially [a] very big deal in terms of Congress."

The changes impact the highest level of the CPC, shifting from a pair of co-chairs to just one leader. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) is stepping down from his post and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) will continue serving at the helm of the caucus. Both members of Congress have expressed support for the reforms.

Pocan told Politico he is "self term-limited" and supports Jayapal leading the CPC into the future. As for concerns that the restructuring gives too much power to one person, the congressman said that "it actually does the opposite of that. ...The heart of this is really around empowering members to be more active."

Jayapal acknowledged to The Intercept that the reforms could mean some members exit the caucus, but she accepts that. "We're ready for that to happen," she said. "I just would rather have people who are really committed to the progressive caucus in the caucus and participating rather than sort of just having it as a label."

Supporters of the "really crucial changes" posited that they will set up the caucus members "to be the power brokers everyone needs them to be" and congratulated Jayapal for "leading the CPC into a new era."

Advocates of the overhaul believe it will put pressure on CPC members to back progressive policies and actually participate in the caucus. As The Intercept explained:

Under the new rules, if a position wins two-thirds support among the CPC, members of the caucus will be expected to vote as a bloc, which would make it the first Democratic caucus to attempt to bind its members. Yet at the same time, members need only support the official position of the CPC two-thirds of the time before running afoul of the rules and risking expulsion.

The new rules would also require CPC members to attend a certain number of meetings and to respond to whip requests, which are questions from caucus leadership about how a member feels about a particular bill or position. That such basic requirements are being written into the rules is a reflection of the current lack of participation. Some of that silence amounted to obstruction; a way to undermine a whip count was to simply ignore it. The new rules would strip the nonrespondents from the denominator, meaning a member who doesn't respond can't jam up the process. The caucus will also require members to vote for and sponsor a certain amount of progressive legislation.

Responding to that report last month, Indivisible said that "we need our leaders to govern boldly. This is exactly what we want to see from the CPC—the progressive voting bloc is a critical step towards actually wielding our power in the new Congress."

Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat who won his race in New York's 16th Congressional District last week to join the expanded Squad, had expressed excitement about the potential new direction of the caucus and indicated he would be a part of it:

The initial four members of the Squad—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)—all won reelection last week and are members of the CPC. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Pressley are on the task force set up to write the new rules, according to The Intercept.

The congresswomen, particularly Ocasio-Cortez, have in recent days used their platforms—from social networks to interviews with national media—to highlight signals that voters want lawmakers, especially Democrats, to pursue a progressive agenda. The New Yorker has been willing to call out her own party and the CPC since her primary win in 2018; that July, she floated the idea of forming "a sub-caucus of the progressive caucus" that "operates as a bloc" in an effort to "generate real power."[2]


2022 additions

By March 2022 Shontel Brown (OH) and John Garamendi (CA) had joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[3]

2021 members

The full Congressional Progressive Caucus Executive Board for the 117th Congress will be:

House Members

2018 new leadership

11/29/18, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) chose their leadership for the 116th Congress and re-elected Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) and elected Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) as Co-Chairs. Additionally, the CPC elected Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) as First-Vice Chair.

“Over the last two years, we’ve made remarkable progress in the fight to advance progressive ideas in Congress and I’m extremely grateful and excited to be re-elected as Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for another two-year term. With the Caucus set to have its greatest membership in its history – more than 90 Representatives – we can change the way Washington works and ensure that Congress writes legislation for every American – not just corporations, special interests, millionaires, and billionaires,” said Rep. Pocan. “The American people sent a Blue Wave – powered by progressives – to Capitol Hill and we fully intend to respect the electorate’s decision by presenting a bold, forward-looking agenda. I’m excited to welcome Rep. Jayapal as a Co-Chair of the Caucus and with progressives in Democratic leadership, we will continue to advance our ideas and shape policies that make a lasting and positive difference on the lives of the American people.”

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to be elected Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The CPC is filled with incredible, dynamic, trusted leaders and I look forward to working hand in hand to ensure the leadership of each one of our members—including the newest members—is highlighted and shines through,” said Rep. Jayapal. “I am committed to ensuring our caucus is as bold and strategic as possible, and that our members have the resources and the ability to stand up for the chance for every American to have real opportunity, to take on the largest corporations and special interests who have corrupted our democracy and to bring real power to workers, women, immigrants and all of those most vulnerable and marginalized. The progressive movement is the strongest it has ever been and I, along with Rep. Pocan and the entire CPC Leadership, look forward to leveraging that power to deliver policies that benefit a diverse, inclusive and just America.”

“I’m proud to be elected by colleagues today as the next CPC Vice Chair,” said Rep. Khanna. “I look forward to working with Co-Chairs Pocan, Jayapal and all my colleagues to advance a progressive agenda in Congress.”

In addition to the Congressional Progressive Caucus elections, the following CPC members were elected to House Democratic leadership over the last two days:

  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Chair of the Democratic Caucus
  • Rep. Katherine Clark (MA-05), Vice-Chair of the Democratic Caucus
  • Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01), Chair of the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee
  • Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee
  • Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33), Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Caucus Leadership Representative

The rest of the Congressional Progressive Caucus leadership for the 116th Congress is listed below:

  • Caucus Whip: Rep.-Elect Ilhan Omar (MN-05)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to the CBC: Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to the CHC: Rep.-Elect Veronica Escobar (TX-16)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to the Native American Caucus: Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to CAPAC: Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues: Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to the LGBT Equality Caucus: Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison for New Members: Rep.-Elect Joe Neguse (CO-02)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to the Seniors Taskforce: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
  • Vice Chair and Liaison to Labor: Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01)[4]

2018 new members

2018 Congressional Progressive Caucus new members included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Deb Haaland, Veronica Escobar, Jesus Garcia, Joe Neguse, Andy Levin, Mike Levin.[5] Jimmy Panetta, Katie Hill, Brad Sherman, Gil Cisneros, Katie Porter, Jahana Hayes, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Jared Golden, Angie Craig, Andy Kim , Steven Horsford, Antonio Delgado, Madeleine Dean, Mary Gay Scanlon, Lori Trahan, Susan Wild, Sylvia Garcia.

2019 members


First Vice Chair

  • Ro Khanna

Vice Chairs


Deputy Whips

Special Order Hour Conveners

PAC Co-Chair

Senate Member

House Members

2017 members


First Vice Chair

Vice Chairs


Senate Member

House Members


2015 members


First Vice Chair

Vice Chairs


Senate Member

House Members


2013 members


Vice Chairs


Senate Member

House Members


2011/12 members

Congressional Progressive Caucus membership as at April 2, 2011.[9]


Vice Chairs


Senate Member

House Members

New members 2012

By April 2012 three more congressmembers had joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[10]

2010 members

Congressional Progressive Caucus membership as at Friday June 02, 2010.[11]


Vice Chairs

Senate Members

Former members:

House Members

Former members

Possible new members after 2010 elections

According to David Dayden writing on leftist blog FireDogLake. "What about the ones who won? Democrats picked up three seats from Republicans, making good on some prior anomalies and realigning correctly. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Cedric Richmond (LA-02) and John Carney (DE-AL) all won. Of those, I would say Hanabusa and Richmond will join the Progressive Caucus. In AL-07, Terri Sewell replaced Artur Davis. She’s a lot more progressive than he ever was, and she will likely join the caucus. David Cicilline (RI-01), the replacement for Patrick Kennedy and another openly gay member of Congress, is likely to join (Patrick Kennedy never did). The race that a progressive lost in a primary, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (MI-13), was over ethical issues, and she’ll be replaced by Hansen Clarke, likely to join the caucus.[15]

New California member

On entering Congress in 2011, Janice Hahn of Los Angeles joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[16]

1997 members

Congressional Progressive Caucus membership as at March 3, 1997.[17]

Steering Committee


Democratic Socialists of America

Democratic Socialists of America played a role in organizing the CPC, according to Chicago DSA;[18]

Congressman Bernie Sanders has been charging that these bail-outs to regimes which violate worker and civil rights are illegal under a law passed last year by Sanders and Representative Barney Frank, both leaders of the Progressive Caucus in Congress which DSA has helped to organize.

Several past members of CPC have been close to DSA including David Bonior, Hilda Solis, Ron Dellums and Major Owens. Serving Illinois Congressman Danny Davis is a DSA member, while Jan Schakowsky, Jerrold Nadler, Bob Filner, John Conyers, John Lewis and Bernie Sanders all have DSA connections.

According to a DSA flier the organization works with CPC to promote "progressive change."[19]

DSA is an activist organization, not a political party. From promoting single-payer health care, to combating Congress' war on the poor, to proposing democratic alternatives to the power of the transnational corporations, DSA is in the center of struggles to advance a progressive America. This struggle is carried on not only by prominent leaders, but more importantly, through the work of thousands of DSA members across the country.
Since 1982, DSA has been working for progressive change. As a national organization, DSA joins with its allies in Congress' Progressive Caucus and in many other progressive organizations, fighting for the interests of the average citizen both in legislative struggles and in other campaigns to educate the public on progressive issues and to secure progressive access to the media.

According to DSA's Democratic Left, Winter 1996, page 16;

DSA tries to link the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus Parliamentary parties of the left in other countries.

In 1997 Chicago DSA member Bruce Bentley wrote;

There is a class struggle in process in the Congress with the Progressive Caucus around such issues as the Welfare Bill, NAFTA and Single Payer Health Care.

As a result of this DSA's Political Director Christine Riddiough organized a meeting with the Congressional Progressive Caucus with the purpose and cogent task as to: "How can we unite our forces on a common agenda?"[20]

Those in attendance included Richard Trumka, Noam Chomsky, Patricia Ireland, William Greider and Jesse Jackson.

According to a Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio, Progressive Challenge, was a national coalition of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Americans for Democratic Action, NOW, and Democratic Socialists of America[21].

In 1999 the Young Democratic Socialists of James Madison University wrote;[22]

D.S.A. is not a political party, but rather works within the left wing of the Democratic Party and other third parties. D.S.A. is a driving force for the Progressive Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives (led by Rep. Bernie Sanders, Socialist Congressman of Vermont).

Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee Minutes of Meeting of July 21-22, 2018:

National Director’s Report

Maria thanked Annie Shields for getting use of the space and Lisa Flores for handling logistics. She then summarized her written report.
She reported developing outward relationships through Jose La Luz to Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) which we can pursue if the NPC wishes, with Congressman Ro Khanna and the Progressive Caucus, in the future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and with several mainstream progressive groups at a conference on planning responses in case of a national security crisis.[23]

DSA link to other parties

According to Christine Riddiough "DSA supports a 'Better Way',global dialogue that links parliamentarians of the Left, community activists and Non-Governmental Organizations working against the untrammeled rights of corporations to divide and rule. DSA tries to link the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus to parliamentarians of the Left in other countries."[24]

Institute for Policy Studies/Progressive Challenge

Congressional Progressive Caucus is heavily influenced by the radical Washington D.C. "think tank," the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

From the IPS website history page:[25]

Much of IPS's policy work is aimed at the national level, and IPS has always worked closely with, and provided analysis and model pieces of legislation to, progressive members of Congress.
Currently, IPS advises the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which, with more than 70 members, is the largest non-party Caucus.

In the late 1990s IPS established Progressive Challenge to utilize leftist groups including Democratic Socialists of America, Americans for Democratic Action, United Electrical Workers, NETWORK, National Jobs for All Coalition etc to pressure[26]the Progressive Caucus in the "correct" direction.

Democratic Socialists of America member Bob Roman, writes of a 1998 Chicago Progressive Challenge meeting attended by Illinois Congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr, Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis[27];

On the evening of Monday, April 21, the Progressive Challenge came to Chicago. Starting off with a town hall style meeting that brought together about 150 people in the UNITE hall at 333 S. Ashland in Chicago, the meeting was structured to present testimony from representative of various local organizations to local Congressional members of the Progressive Caucus.
DSA was particularly well represented by the testimony of the Youth Section's International Secretary, Daraka Larimore-Hall. Daraka Larimore-Hall gave an impassioned, coherent presentation that linked the various aspects of DSA's agenda with the project at hand.
Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr., Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis attended the meeting...
The Progressive Challenge is an effort to link the Congressional Progressive Caucus with the larger left grass roots network of single issue, constituent, labor and ideological organizations. The Institute for Policy Studies is very much the keystone organization of this project, which has brought together some 40 organizations including DSA, Americans for Democratic Action, United Electrical Workers, NETWORK, National Jobs for All Coalition to name a few. No one of these groups is a major player inside the Beltway, but together they have captured the attention of the Progressive Caucus and contributed to its growth.

"The Progressive Challenge: Capitol Hill Forum"

On January 9, 1997, over 600 people attended "The Progressive Challenge: Capitol Hill Forum" sponsored by the House Progressive Caucus, Democratic Socialists of America, and a host of other progressive organizations.

The primary goal of this day-long "kick-off" forum was to "identify the unifying values shared by progressives at this point in US history, to help define core elements of a forward-looking progressive agenda, and to pinpoint ways to connect that agenda with the concerns of millions of disillusioned people who lack voices in present politics and policy-making."

After a welcome by Representative Bernie Sanders, an impressive array of legislators, activists, and thinkers offered their insights. Senator Paul Wellstone, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Patricia Ireland of NOW, Richard Trumka of theAFL-CIO, Noam Chomsky, William Greider of Rolling Stone, and DSA Honorary Chair Barbara Ehrenreich were among the many who spoke.

Some emphasized the importance of the conventional, if difficult, process of progressive candidates building grassroots campaigns that treat voters with intelligence and challenge prevailing wisdom regarding what values and issues motivate ordinary Americans struggling to make ends meet-as opposed to using polls and focus groups to concoct "designer" campaigns to appeal to upscale "soccer moms." Other speakers reminded those present that great changes are made by people acting outside of the corridors of power to define justice and "political reality," and the electoral and legislative processes are not the only arenas worthy of activists' attention.[28]

What virtually all participants acknowledged (thanks in no small part to DSA's role in helping to organize this event and in focusing the activities of the Working Group on Economic Insecurity) was that the centerpiece of a progressive agenda involves addressing the question of the economy and the disruptions, suffering, powerlessness and fear created by the mobility and power of corporations-without glossing over the racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and other injustices exacerbated by economic uncertainty.
The next step at the policy level is a series of briefings for Congressional staff and members on specific issues related to economic justice (global economy, corporate responsibility, and welfare reform are among the topics to be covered). These briefings are planned for January and February, and out of the briefing sessions working groups on the issues will be formed. The working groups will include Congressional staff and progressive organizations who will help draft legislation. The coalition of activist groups is working on plans to bring the issues to the grassroots through a round of town meetings this spring and through the development of a network of progressive elected officials. The town meetings will be modeled on DSA's Public Hearings on Economic Insecurity and the AFL-CIO town meetings of 1996, and will bring Progressive Caucus members together with local activists.

Progressive State of the Union Address, 1999

January 19, 1999, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Institute for Policy Studies, talked about issues that they are planning to address in the upcoming year, at the Progressive State of the Union Address. Some of the issues they intend to address are poverty in the United States, national defense, the global economy, Medicare, and education. Rep. Conyers stated that the House disregarded the views the majority of the American people when the House impeached the president.

Speakers were Tammy Baldwin [D] Wisconsin, John Cavanagh Co-Director Institute for Policy Studies, John Conyers, [D] Michigan, Peter DeFazio [D] Oregon, Karen Dolan, Coordinator Institute for Policy Studies, Earl Hilliard, [D] Alabama, Maurice Hinchey, [D] New York, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, [D] Ohio, Barbara Lee, [D] California, Jerrold Nadler, [D] New York, Grace Napolitano, [D] California, Major Owens, [D] New York, Bernie Sanders, [I] Vermont, Jan Schakowsky, [D] Illinois.[29]

Progressive Caucus SOTU Address

On Thursday, January 27 2000, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm in 2253 of RHOB, the Congressional Progressive Caucus held its 3rd Annual Congressional Progressive Caucus' State of the Union Address. This event was also sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies' Progressive Challenge coalition whose Fairness Agenda for America is endorsed by 200 public interest groups nationally.

Caucus Chair Rep. Peter DeFazio(D-OR) stated "The Progressive Caucus Alternative State of the Union will provide a much needed reality check to politicians who would rather ignore the priorities of Americans left out of the economic boom -- priorities like access to quality health care and education, repairing crumbling schools, addressing the growing gap between the rich and poor, and creating a sustainable global economy that works for everyone, not just the corporate architects."

Anticipated speakers included: Peter DeFazio (D-OR), House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-MI), Earl Hilliard (D-AL);Dennis Kucinich (D-OH); Cynthia McKinney (D-GA);. Major Owens (D-NY)Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Tammy Baldwin (D-WI);. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY);Barbara Lee (D-CA); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); and Lynn Woolsey(D-CA). John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies also made some remarks regarding public interest groups support of a progressive agenda.[30]

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, Chaired by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), consists of over a quarter of the House Democrats, one Independent and Senator Paul Wellstone. The Caucus will be releasing position papers on Health Care and Income Inequality, with reports on the Alternative Federal Budget, Social Security, Minimum Wage, Education and the Global Economy.

(Co-sponsoring organizations also included: Progressive Challenge, Campaign For America's Future, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, United for A Fair Economy, National Jobs for All Coalition).[31]

Lui Cheng 2007 American tour

The American Center for International Labor Solidarity and the National Labor College recently hosted Professor Liu Cheng for Shanghai Normal University to discuss the evolution of the new draft contract labor law in China. Cheng’s visit to the NLC on March 27th was the culmination of a multi-state tour meeting with union leaders and members of Congress.

For the report by Global Labor Strategies analyzing the impact of transnational corporations on the first draft of the Contract Law go to: UNDUE INFLUENCE: Corporation Gain Ground in Battle Over Chinas New Labor Law

Liu Cheng's tour included nearly 45 events over 17 days, in the Bay Area, Boston, Amherst, New York and Washington DC. A partial list of the many sponsoring organizations, and their key contact, includes:

House Progressive Caucus, Washington DC - Bill Goold.

Communist Party on the Progressive Caucus

A 2002 report by Joelle Fishman, Chair, Political Action Committee, Communist Party USA to the Party's National Board, evaluated the Congressional Progressive Caucus[32].

Although this Caucus is not large enough to control the Congressional agenda or even to break into the media, the existence of this group of 57 members of Congress, which includes 20 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and six members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, provides an important lever that can be used to advance workers' issues and move the debate to the left in every Congressional District in the country.

Communist Party "ally"

In a report "What Can We Learn From the Movement for Health Care Reform?" prepared as part of the discussion leading up to the Communist Party USA's 29th National Convention May 21-23, 2010.Communist Party USA member David Bell wrote on the partial failure of the Party's health care agenda;[33]

Did we forget the fact that many of the same unions, hundreds of locals, and the rank and file supported single payer? We also turned away from our allies in Congress, the Progressive Caucus, and John Conyers. We did not insist that single payer supporters, including Conyers, be included in the White House summit on health care reform.

CPUSA on Obama, Democrat Caucuses

A report praising Barack Obama, and the changes wrought by him, as well as communist connection to the Democratic Party, was delivered at the 14th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties, held in Beirut, Lebanon, November 22-25 2012, by Erwin Marquit, member of the International Department, CPUSA.[34]

We express our gratitude to the Lebanese Communist Party for hosting this important meeting under the present difficult conditions.
The Communist Party USA not only welcomes the reelection of President Barack Obama, but actively engaged in the electoral campaign for his reelection and for the election of many Democratic Party congressional candidates. We regarded the 2012 election as the most important in the United States since 1932, an election held in the midst of the Great Depression...
Because of this danger, we viewed our participation in mainstream electoral activity as obligatory, even though both major parties in the United States are dominated by capital, with no effective competition from a mass-scale social-democratic party, We are aware that some on the Left in the United States thought that the correct approach to the elections was either to boycott them, or as a protest, to run or support small-scale left-wing candidacies with no possible chance of winning. We Communists rejected this strategy because too much was at stake.
Faced with a choice between the victory of either the Democratic Party or Republican Party, the Communist Party viewed a victory of the far-right Republican Party as an extreme disaster. In this situation, we saw the necessity of a policy of center-left alliances in order not to separate ourselves from the people’s struggles for dealing with the far right onslaught, The basis of such an alliance now includes the labor movement, organizations of African Americans and Latinos, the women’s movement, gay and lesbian civil rights groups, and organizations of the elderly and retirees. On some issues, these groups are joined by a few far-sighted elements of capital...
In our electoral policy, we seek to cooperate and strengthen our relationship with the more progressive elements in Democratic Party, such as the Progressive Caucus in the U.S. Congress, a group of seventy-six members of the Congress co-chaired by Raúl Grijalva, a Latino from Arizona, and Keith Ellison, an African American Muslim from Minnesota. We also will strengthen our relationship to the Congressional Black Caucus (formed by African Americans in the Congress), which has been the point of origin of innovative policies including an end to the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, and with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In its domestic policy, for example, the Progressive Caucus has put forth a program for using the public sector to deal with unemployment. It has opposed the use of the so called “war on terror” to incarcerate U.S. citizens indefinitely without criminal charges. In its foreign policy, the Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus are outspoken in their opposition to U.S. imperialist policies abroad. The Progressive Caucus, now that Obama has been reelected, will be playing an important role in contributing to the mobilization of mass activity on critical issues to bring pressure on the Congress and administration to act on them...
While the victory of Obama is a welcome aid for us in our domestic struggles, we still face the challenge of mobilizing mass pressure on his administration to reverse the imperialist character of U.S. foreign policy. The CPUSA will pursue this formidable task vigorously in alliance with domestic progressive forces and with our comrades in the Communist and Workers’ Parties and their allies throughout the world.

Restore the American Dream for the 99 Percent Act

Reps Grijalva and Ellison at the Capitol press conference

"Responding directly to national demand for a massive jobs program", members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, December 13, 2011, introduced the Restore the American Dream for the 99 Percent Act into the House of Representatives.

The bill would create more than 4 million jobs and reduce the deficit by more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years, making it the biggest government effort thus far to marshal the resources needed to address the economic crisis.

While no one expects the bill to pass in the Republican-controlled House, it is viewed by many as outlining what really must be done if the economy is to be restarted in a way that benefits the overwhelming majority of the population.

Progressive Caucus Co-Chairmen Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., presented the legislation at a news conference in the Capitol.

The bill would create several "corps" that will offer government jobs to the unemployed doing essential work including repairing school buildings, maintaining public parks, building neighborhood energy efficiency and conservation projects, and providing health care and other public services in underserved areas. One of the corps would be specifically devoted to re-hiring teachers and first responders laid off by cash-strapped state and local governments .
There are provisions in the bill that require 75 percent of the goods and services purchased by the federal government to be made in America, provisions designed to help small businesses get federal contracts, and allocation of $50 billion alone for highway, public transportation and electrical grid improvement projects.
The bill provides for tariffs in cases where what the lawmakers called "currency manipulation by China" results in "artificially driving down the cost of Chinese imports."

One clause in the bill protects both the long-term unemployed and wounded veterans from hiring discrimination.
The bill includes provisions that would raise $800 billion through a surcharge on millionaires and billionaires, end tax subsidies for oil companies, and impose a tiny financial transactions tax on Wall Street.
There would be other budget savings through ending the war in Afghanistan and slashing $200 billion from the defense budget by eliminating unneeded weapons systems and cutting in half the military forces currently stationed in Europe.

The bill also strengthens health care reform by creating a public health insurance option that would be available through health care exchanges. That measure alone, the lawmakers say, would drive down spending federal health care spending by $90 billion.
The bill would allow Medicare to bargain with pharmaceutical companies to get bulk discounts, a move blocked by Republicans in the past. Supporters say it would help save more than $150 billion.

To save Social Security benefits and trust fund, the legislation would raise the cap on earnings taxed by Social Security above its current $106,800.

"The Republicans want the people to think about how bad things are and to focus their anger on the president," said Grijalva "They don't want people to count the things the Republicans voted down that would have helped this country."

"This bill," said Ellison, "shows we can put people to work today by building for tomorrow."[35]

H.R. 1000 support

In late 2013, a day-long conference of academics, economists, labor and community activists discussed an Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century – a program of full employment with the right to a job and living wages.

Organized by the National Jobs for All Coalition, The Nation magazine, Dollars & Sense, the Greater NY Labor-Religion Coalition, the Left Labor Project and others, the conference was held at Columbia University in New York City. Panels of speakers from diverse fields, including economics, sociology, social welfare, history, labor and communications, drew on the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1944 call for a Second Bill of Rights with its guarantee of full employment, living wages, housing, medical care, education, and retirement security.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) keynoted the event drawing attention to H.R. 1000, the “Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act.” The bill, reintroduced into Congress in March 2013, currently has 50 Congressional co-sponsors. It would establish a tax on large scale Wall Street securities transactions to fund the creation of 4 million jobs within the first two years of passage.

“Full employment must be at the top of our domestic agenda,” said Conyers. “FDR made the case for full employment with his Second Bill of Rights. He understood that full employment is the foundation of economic democracy. We aren’t going to wait for the private sector – government must do it,” he said.

Noting the efforts of the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, the Asian-Pacific Caucus and the Progressive Caucus of Congress in supporting HR 1000, Conyers said “in spite of Citizens United, we can win this.” He continued, “We aren’t doing badly with sponsors but there has to be a grass roots campaign to win it. It’s people like you who can make it happen.”[36]

Left Democrats in Search of Anti-Trump Strategy

Early March 2018, the Congressional Progressive Caucus met for its annual strategy conference in Baltimore. For the first time, a delegation of European left-wing parties organized by the New York office of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung attended the summit.

With Donald Trump in the White House and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, the Democratic Party is having a hard time on Capitol Hill. But with the November midterm elections approaching, resistance is increasing all over the country.

The primary Congressional body the resistance can turn to is a group of progressive Democrats, organized as the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). Founded in 1991, it is the largest association of congresspeople in Washington. On March 8 and 9, the CPC hosted this year’s strategy conference, focusing on how to oppose the daily attacks by the President and his right-wing conservative enablers. Pressed by younger, decidedly left-wing voters mobilized by Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Democratic congresspeople have to choose which course to take: should they follow the centrist trajectory of Clinton and Obama, or follow Sanders’ example and take a left turn?

European delegation, Diane Abbott second from right

While there are a variety of opinions within the CPC, a clear majority of its members seem to be veering left, towards CPC co-founder Sanders. The strategy conference, which has historically focused solely on domestic politics, bucked this trend by inviting a small foreign delegation for the first time ever. Composed and supported by the New York office of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the delegation consisted of representatives of European left parties: Sevim Dagdelen (deputy chair of Die Linke in the German Bundestag), Eduardo Maura (member of the Spanish parliament for Podemos), Yiannis Bournous (head of International Relations for SYRIZA) and Diane Abbott (representative of the British Labor Party and member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet).

Senator Elizabeth Warren gave the conference keynote speech, heavily criticizing some of her Democratic colleagues. Just a week before the conference, 16 of them had voted with Republicans on a bill softening banking regulations which had been passed after the Great Recession. “It is so hard to fight against all the money and all the lobbying. It is so hard to fight when we fight and lose. It’s worse when some of our teammates don’t even show up for the fight,” she said.

Warren set a tone that resonated with many congresspeople as well as with Sevim Dagdelen, who vehemently criticized US-led wars, especially the war in Afghanistan, which has been raging for over 16 years. Dagdelen pointed to her work on the UN Global Compact and the waves of refugees triggered by these wars. She contrasted the reality of war and forced migration with the call for an end to military intervention and the “right to stay.”

Following Senator Warren, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the stage. Pelosi exceeded her speaking time considerably, perhaps in an effort to reestablish herself with the CPC after having been challenged from the left in her most recent re-election. In another challenge from the left, Yiannis Bournous successfully pressed Pelosi to agree to send a letter of complaint to IMF head Christine Lagarde regarding the institution’s handling of Greece. Obviously, political pressure has an effect on this level as well.

Former CPC spokesman Keith Ellison gave a brilliant speech, in which he personally thanked the European representatives. The Sanders supporter was the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress. Last year he narrowly lost the election for party leadership to Tom Perez. Baltimore was friendly territory for Ellison, as well as for New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio.

In general, the atmosphere was excellent. For one thing, the gathering took place in an informal setting. Even controversies were dealt with in a friendly manner. Secondly, great polling results have elevated Democrats’ hopes for an election victory in November. They might even recapture the majority in the House of Representatives, which in turn would fundamentally change decision-making on Capitol Hill and allow for impeachment proceedings against the President.

With this in mind, the progressive congresspeople joined forces and set to work. They discussed current topics, such as the #MeToo movement, but their main focus was oriented towards trying to develop proper strategies, coalitions and electoral messages confronting the Trump agenda.

And last but not least, the conference was also a large networking event, given the presence of civil society representatives and guests like the delegates from Europe. For example, Podemos’ Eduardo Maura spoke with the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, about the disastrous situation in Puerto Rico following the hurricane. Sevim Dagdelen had a discussion with representative Ro Khanna (California) about his recent initiative to end the war in Yemen, and exchanged ideas with Barbara Lee who, three days after 9/11, had been the only member of Congress to vote against launching the war on Afghanistan.

On the second conference day, Diane Abbott gave a speech typifying the political orientation of the CPC and the Democrats. She talked about how Jeremy Corbyn, herself, and a few others had experienced the dark years of Blair’s “Third Way” in the House of Commons. She explained how they did not give up, but fought on, and then, when the opportunity presented itself, took over the neo-liberal party and threw the rudder of the Labour Party to the left. And she explained how this new course, which she emphasized is socialist, has become increasingly popular.

When Abbott delivered the greetings of the “socialist Labor Party” right at the beginning of her speech, the crowd became a little uneasy. However, when she spoke of “socialist” politics for the third time at the end of her speech, she had already won over the audience – which applauded with a standing ovation. At that point, it looked like most of the audience really wanted the Democratic Party to finally stop lagging behind the Republicans, and to begin recognizing the signs of the times by moving decisively to the left. For the many, not the few![37]

Organizer Ady Barkan of Center for Popular Democracy, was honored at the summit for his work fighting for health care. Barkan suggested a campaign around a jobs guarantee, with the hope of making the issue central to the 2020 presidential race. “It would be a great campaign to say if you can’t find good work in the private sector, we are not going to give you unemployment benefits, we are going to give you employment,” he said. “We are going to put you to work cleaning the streets, rebuilding our infrastructure, taking care of older people or young people, writing plays, making music. There is so much good to be done.”

Lorette Picciano of the Rural Coalition argued that the best program will come from listening to people—including those who are in often written-off parts of the country, the ones these days usually assumed to be “Trump Country.”

The #MeToo moment was on many people’s minds, and one of the guests had played a key role in turning the public’s attention away from famous women and toward the working class. Monica Ramirez of the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the farmworker organization behind a widely circulated letter from farmworking women to Hollywood actresses about sexual violence, noted that there were real policy issues that Democrats could bring forward—not just improving the federal laws around sexual harassment, which still leave out women in small businesses and have a short time frame for people to take action, but also extending the protections of the National Labor Relations Act to include farmworkers so that they can organize to protect themselves through a union.

To Yiannis Bournous of SYRIZA, it was necessary for the CPC to think through the way American wars in the Middle East have created a refugee crisis that is now bearing down on his country and shaping right-wing anti-immigrant discourse across Europe. The Democratic Party has long tended to assume that it is weak on so-called national security issues, and has over-corrected to sometimes disastrous effect. But Corbyn, Abbott noted, bucked the entire establishment (including, again, much of his own party, which had backed Tony Blair on Iraq) and actually gained in popularity for criticizing the U.K.’s involvement in wars in the Middle East following a bombing in Manchester last May. This is, despite the challenges in Washington, a winning issue.

To help it advance its program, the CPC could take another page from the European leftists and adopt a particular feature of the parliamentary system: the shadow cabinet. The shadow ministers are appointed within the opposition party to shadow the ministers from the leadership party, to study the position closely and put forward a response to every government policy. Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary, explained, “It helps because we focus more than we might otherwise on actually being in government and what we could do or say.” The CPC already puts out in essence a shadow budget—a shadow cabinet could help move the caucus from principled opposition to thinking seriously about power.

Anat Shenker-Osorio, communications researcher and adviser with ASO Communications, told author of this article Sarah Jaffe, “People feel incredibly and rightfully disillusioned and cynical about the political process at all. When we run as ‘not Trump,’ when we run as ‘not that other guy’ but nothing positive, then what we are saying to them is that their cynicism is well placed. We’re not actually offering to do something, we’re not offering to create something, we’re not offering a beautiful tomorrow, we’re offering them a whole bunch of problems and the best that we can do is some amelioration of those harms.”[38]

External links



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  7. CPC website, members, accessed Jan.15, 2015
  8. CPC website, members, accessed March. 29, 2013
  9. Congressional Progressive Caucus website, accessed April 2, 2011
  10. CPC website, accessed April 20, 2012
  11. Caucus Member List
  12. DSA website: Members of the Progressive Caucus (archived on the Web Archive website)
  13. Congressional Progressive Caucus website: Caucus Member List
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 DSA website: Members of the Progressive Caucus (archived on the Web Archive website)
  15. [ FDL, Progressive Caucus Will Gain Members After Elections By: David Dayen Wednesday November 3, 2010]
  16. CPC website, accessed Dec. 15. 2011
  17. [COC letter head, March 3, 1997]
  18. Reorganized Illinois Citizen Action, New Ground 56, Jan-Feb 1998
  19. Democratic Socialists of America, Greater Detroit Local
  20. DSA National Director Addresses Chicago DSA Membership, New Ground 51, March-April, 1997
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  30. Common Dreams, Progressive Groups And Congressional Caucus To Present Their Third Annual Alternative State Of The Union Address, JANUARY 26, 2000
  31. Common Dreams, Progressive Groups And Congressional Caucus To Present Their Third Annual Alternative State Of The Union Address, JANUARY 26, 2000
  32. [7]Report on the 2002 Elections, February 22 2002, National Committee Meeting February 2002
  33. Convention Discussion: What Can We Learn From the Movement for Health Care Reform? by: David Bell February 2 2010, This article is part of the discussion leading up to the Communist Party USA's 29th National Convention May 21-23, 2010.
  34., Contribution of the Communist Party USA, 14th International Meeting of CWP, Presented by Erwin Marquit,, member of International Department, CPUSA, 25 November 2012
  35. PW, Congressional Progressive Caucus introduces biggest jobs bill yet, by: John Wojcik, December 13 2011
  36. Dem Left, An Economic Bill of Rights For the 21st. Century , Posted by Pat Fry on 11.05.13
  37. [ RLS LEFT DEMOCRATS IN SEARCH OF ANTI-TRUMP STRATEGY Albert Scharenberg - March 2018]
  38. The New Republic, A Party Within the Democratic Party, By SARAH JAFFE March 14, 2018