Progressive leaders in Congress urged presumptive President-elect Joesph R. Biden to “go big and go bold” with a liberal agenda next year despite expected pushback from more moderate members of their party.
“Your instincts are there, but let’s get some big, bold things done and lead on those issues,” Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Mark Pocan, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, said at a Thursday conference hosted by the Progressive Caucus Action Fund. “You know what to do. But let’s seize this moment, and lead with big, bold ideas, and people who want to interact with them.”
On the first day of the Progressive Strategy Summit, Mr. Pocan, fellow CPC co-chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and leading activists outlined their top priorities for the Biden administration.
The list includes dismantling President Trump’s executive orders on DACA, implementing a federal $15 minimum wage, rejoining the Paris climate accord and canceling a large portion of student debt.
“We’ve got to be bold, we’ve got to be courageous and we have to show people quickly that we care about them, their pocketbooks, their livelihoods and their futures,” Ms. Jayapal said, looking toward future elections.
Even as progressive candidates performed well in their districts, House Democrats overall lost seats.
The election results prompted more moderate Democrats to blame far-left members for allowing controversial messages such as “defund the police” to define to define the party.
Mr. Pocan called the complaints “ridiculous” but acknowledged the sentiment could cause trouble for a progressive agenda.
He specifically criticized Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, for mocking the “defund the police” movement and other liberal causes, such as ending the filibuster in the Senate, arguing that there were “absolutely structural barriers” for their movement’s priorities.
Mr. Pocan also called for Mr. Biden to be liberal with the use of executive orders to get around “obstructionism or tight vote margins.”
The Wisconsin Democrat also said he’s in favor of pushing the House’s Democratic leaders to rein in some of the minority’s tools, such as a motion to recommit, to curtail Republicans’ ability to leverage a thin majority.
Incoming Reps.-elect Marie Newman of Illinois and Kai Kahele of Hawaii, who both embrace far-left policies, said they were optimistic about their upcoming terms in office. When asked about contending with a Republican-run Senate, they said liberals need to spend the next two years making proposals such as “Medicare for All” government-run health care part of the mainstream conversation.