“I believe the technique doesn’t change,” stated Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), the group’s deputy chair, who added: “Clearly, the extra people who find themselves engaged, the extra concepts now we have, the extra momentum now we have, the higher.”
Inside its chamber, the group arguably has fewer causes to make a strategic shift. A swath of centrist retirements this yr means progressives will possible comprise an even bigger share of the Democratic caucus within the subsequent Congress, boosting their inner sway. However they’re not prepared to speak about tangible new methods to attain actual legislative victories that may make it to Biden’s desk — not to mention the potential of life within the minority.
Progressive leaders, corresponding to caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), see their power as publicly urgent the Democratic Get together additional to the left. They insist there’s an opportunity to develop that energy, even from the minority if the GOP reclaims the Home this fall, by placing senior Democrats on discover and bringing their concepts into the mainstream.
Jayapal was clear in a latest interview that she hasn’t given up on holding the Home for her occasion, regardless of the historic headwinds Democrats face. But when the GOP takes energy, properly, the everyday minority-party position of criticizing the bulk fits liberals simply superb. It doesn’t matter what occurs, they’re already conscious that their window for motion is closing this yr and their jobs may quickly be little however messaging.
“While you’re within the minority, there may be typically a possibility to get one thing completed, however with this Home, I’m undecided,” Jayapal stated in an interview.
“And so, a variety of our job is to be the opposition occasion within the minority,” she stated when requested about subsequent yr’s prospects. “However we additionally must be a proposition occasion and remind folks that whereas we’re opposing, we’re additionally combating for a complete set of issues that Republicans are saying no to.”
Progressives have seen some notable wins. They helped form the coronavirus assist bundle final yr and pushed Biden to increase an eviction moratorium later that yr after a protest by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.). Plus, the president remains to be weighing a transfer to cancel pupil mortgage debt.
All of it comes after the caucus grew its ranks in 2020 after which remade itself right into a formidable voting bloc that the White Home and congressional management couldn’t ignore. Members now face attendance and invoice sponsorship necessities, and the group has a single chair as an alternative of two co-chairs. The progressives even have matching quarter-zip sweatshirts now.
“We’re a caucus that management and the White Home needed to take care of due to the power within the variety of our members. And I believe we’ll proceed to do issues like that, and proceed to attempt to push the agenda,” stated Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), a former co-chair.
Whereas the group’s legislative aspirations have been tempered by the realities of slim Democratic management, its new necessities have helped type a extra cohesive and highly effective group. Although the brand new system has impressed some complaints.
“You realize, typically I really feel like I’m at school. I’ve to report my excuse for not being in a gathering,” quipped Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).
Progressives’ heft is prone to develop much more heading into subsequent yr. Contests in seats opened by redistricting have allowed a brand new crop of liberals to run in secure Democratic seats with out difficult an incumbent. That permits a few of them to earn the backing of the Progressive Caucus’ PAC — which doesn’t help main challengers to present members as a rule, in contrast to outdoors left-leaning teams like Justice Democrats.
How newly elected liberals would slot in ideologically subsequent yr nonetheless isn’t clear. However members of the Progressive Caucus no less than aren’t anxious about their inhabitants fracturing, a la the Home Freedom Caucus’ split from the conservative Republican Research Committee in 2015.
Whereas the smaller Freedom Caucus grew to become extra highly effective — and an everyday thorn in the side of Republican leaders and plenty of of their convention — progressives say they’re nonetheless dedicated to an enormous tent, so long as members present as much as conferences and help sufficient of the group’s payments.
Liberals additionally hope a leftward shift inside the Democratic Get together will assist their bloc acquire standing and pull incumbents outdoors of the Progressive Caucus additional leftward, turning messaging into legislative wins. For instance, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Home Oversight Committee and is dealing with main challenges from the left, convened a hearing with Bush on the finish of March on well being care reforms together with Medicare for All.
“My back-of-the-envelope math is that the [Democratic] caucus will proceed to maneuver to the extra progressive facet as a result of the bottom is way more liberal and progressive than it was 10 years in the past or 20 years in the past,” stated Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a member of each the Progressive Caucus and the extra centrist New Democrat Coalition.
Beyer predicted being within the minority would maintain the Progressive Caucus “shut” — they might have a standard foe in Home Republicans, in any case.
And even in a possible minority-party existence, Progressive Caucus leaders recommend that sure methods will really feel off-limits. Conservative Republicans have used painful procedural tactics not too long ago to delay Democrats’ payments, making their opponents take seemingly powerful votes on unrelated matters or making an attempt to adjourn the Home. Jayapal says her group would reasonably concentrate on messaging than that type of legislative bullying.
“I believe you’ve obtained to make use of each tactic you should use, however what they’re doing now’s past something I’d ever wish to do,” Jayapal stated.