House Republicans are putting Democrats on the record for their views on socialism with a vote on a resolution that condemns the leftist ideology.
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, Florida Republican, introduced the resolution citing her own South Florida district’s firsthand experience with understanding the consequences of authoritarian socialist regimes.
Ms. Salazar, who often shares her personal story of her parents fleeing Cuba to escape the communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro, dared her Democratic colleagues to vote against the resolution.
“The resolution is very clear. Either you’re with it or you’re not,” Ms. Salazar told The Washington Times.
Democrats are split on the resolution, which is expected to get a vote as soon as Thursday. While most of the party’s lawmakers decry it as a partisan messaging tactic and plan to vote no, the leadership of the centrist New Democrat Coalition said they plan to vote in favor of the resolution.
“New Dems reject socialism — period,” the group said in a statement.
Despite hitting Republicans for playing “political games” with the socialist label, the New Dems said they expect the resolution to pass with large bipartisan support.
Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire chairs the group. Its vice chairs include Reps. Sharice Davids of Kansas, Brad Schneider of Illinois, Derek Kilmer of Washington, and Salud Carbajal of California.
Republicans for years have criticized Democrats for endorsing socialism, and a growing faction of Democratic lawmakers have embraced the label.
The criticism has become a standard GOP campaign message in response to the Democratic Party’s moves further to the left, including the rise of self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders as a top contender for the party’s presidential nomination in 2016 and the advent of the Sanders-inspired far-left “Squad” in the House.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Squad who also deems herself a democratic socialist, said the GOP definition of socialism hits broadly at any kind of government program.
“What Republicans consider socialism is Medicare and Social Security,” she said. “I would really caution anyone from being duped.”
Socialism traditionally advocates for the means of production, distribution and exchange to be publicly owned. In Marxist theory, it is considered a transitional state between the overthrow of capitalism and communism.
Rep. Kevin Hern, Oklahoma Republican who chairs the Republican Study Committee, said if Democrats vote against the resolution, it sends a message about where they stand.
“It’s pretty clear what’s happened in the last four years when members of the Democratic Party say ‘I’m a democratic socialist’ and following Senator Bernie Sanders and now when they’re being called out on it, it matters,” Mr. Hern said. “While not every Democrat is of the same group think, that’s how they vote.”
The resolution cites socialism as causing the deaths of more than 100 million people worldwide, referring to several authoritarian leaders across history, from Vladimir Lenin to Kim Jong-un.
“Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), that Congress denounces socialism in all its forms, and opposes the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America,” it reads.
Squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat, accused Republicans of hypocrisy for participating in the Paycheck Protection Program that doled out taxpayer-backed business loans as part of the government’s COVID-19 relief.
“Our residents don’t want them working on things like this,” Ms. Tlaib told The Times. “They want them working on things to lower the cost of living and everything. For all my colleagues who are worried about socialism, maybe you should give back the PPP loan that you took out.”
Rep. Mike Quigley, Illinois Democrat, said that despite being against socialism, he sees the resolution as divisive politics.
“There’s meaningful legislation and there’s legislation meant to try to divide and pit people. It’s an exercise in semantics. It’s not important, though I’m a capitalist,” Mr. Quigley said.
• Mica Soellner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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