Good Politics

It wasn’t a coincidence that moments after Nancy Pelosi promised progressive House leaders more power in the next Congress, a host of liberal groups announced they were supporting her for speaker.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who is expected to co-chair the House Progressive Caucus next year, left a Thursday night meeting with Pelosi in the Capitol and proclaimed that her members would have more seats on powerful committees and more influence over legislation.


Pelosi’s overtures also speak to progressives’ growing influence in the Democratic Caucus. The Progressive Caucus will increase its membership by at least 20 members next year, and comprise about two-fifths of the caucus. Its leaders intend to use those numbers to boost their power and agenda — starting first with committee assignments and leadership positions, then expanding into legislation.


Thursday’s meeting with Pelosi included Jayapal and current Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan (D-Wis.). One request to which Pelosi agreed was to give the Progressive Caucus proportional representation on what lawmakers call the “A committees”: the Appropriations, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services and Intelligence committees.


The group leaders also registered their concerns about “pay-go” rules with Pelosi. Under those rules, certain bills cannot be considered if they aren’t paid for. Progressives have long run on policy positions that would be expensive, from “Medicare for all” to free college tuition. Pelosi didn’t make any commitments, but she promised to bring those rules up for debate.

Good move.  As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”


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