After the COVID bailout bill, progressives look for the next big win


Atlanta (AP) —Activist Joan Rivers stood surrounded by the “JOBSNOW” sign as he sought to put together support for a large-scale progressive infrastructure and climate change proposal. It was.

It was a simple mission, but the recent days of the Rivers on the Atlanta Beltline were the way through the city’s fastest-growing liberal district, eventually becoming politically free. .. Voters who quit wanted to talk about issues such as hate crimes, labor law, institutional racism, and the climate crisis.

“It’s a galaxy of things,” Rivers said, saying her biggest problems were immigration and criminal justice reform. “I think the voting bill is the most important thing we need so far,” she said.

The exchange reflects the next challenge for a progressive movement: settle on its top priorities. After successfully passing the pandemic response bill, President Joe Biden created $ 2.3 trillion in infrastructure and public works proposed his next clear legislative goal. However, the Democratic left, who worked closely with Biden on the COVID-19 bill, is organizing a list of issues that it is about to tackle next.

The spotlight shifts frequently. After the Georgia Republican Party passed a new election law, many progressives declared democratic countermeasures their primary goal. The murder trial of Derek Chauvin has revived the demands of criminal justice. Some liberals want a review of immigrants. Others grab the expansion of the Supreme Court. This week, the Democratic-led House resolved to make the District of Columbia a state. And progressives have their own climate and public works spending that surpasses Biden.

In a tightly divided parliament where the 50-50 Senate can become a legislative cemetery on the Democratic agenda, everything faces a long probability. It puts more and more pressure on the left as leaders and activists look towards the 2022 midterm elections, where Democrats need to market to voters what they have achieved while controlling both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“We are proud of what we have achieved,” said D-Wash Rep. Pramirajayapal, chair of Parliamentary Progressive Caucus, in the COVID-19 bill. But she added, “I can’t say I couldn’t go back to voters and pass” on additional measures on environmental protection, voting rules, and labor law because of Republican obstruction in the Senate.

Progressive’s preferred answer is to eliminate filibuster. This effectively requires 60 votes for major non-expenditure bills. But beyond that procedural solution, Maurice Mitchell, the leader of the Working Families Party, calls the idea a “kind of laundry list.”

“There are windows opened with every effort to defeat (former president) Donald Trump,” Mitchell said. “We understand that windows never stay open forever.”

The so-called prosperity agenda is perhaps the most organized driving force on the left, under the umbrella of trade unions, environmental groups and civil rights groups, calling itself the “Green New Deal Coalition.” In terms of policy, there is no fundamental difference from Biden’s pending infrastructure and public works packages, which will make a big difference in climate policy through investment in clean energy. But progressives want to spend nearly $ 1 trillion a year and adopt a more aggressive timeline to reach a carbon-neutral economy that doesn’t contribute to the new pollution that warms the Earth’s atmosphere.

In addition, progressives support a series of election law amendments that have passed the House of Representatives but the Senate path is uncertain. Call for a nonpartisan process to depict legislative and parliamentary districts. Expansion of public funding for elections. Restoring the Voting Rights Act provisions eradicated by the Supreme Court, which gave more power to federal authorities on how states hold elections. They summarize it as “democratic reform.”

Labor activists are seeking a variety of worker-friendly suggestions, including paid parental leave, student loan allowances, an increase in the minimum wage abandoned from the COVID-19 relief package, and a review of labor laws. Beyond Biden’s proposed income and investment tax increases, there are pushes from some quarters of wealth tax.

Too extreme, enough to feed the daily diet of Republican attacks on Biden and Congressional Democrats.

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy recently mentioned in Fox News former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, “I knew he was leaving the center, but he didn’t know he was leaving Lenin. “.

Progressivists do not apologize for the ambitious agenda, and Mitchell argues that Democrats should not be distracted by “Republican issues” and “malicious arguments.”

Jayapal argued that the 2020 election results and public support for the COVID-19 bill represent “a country ready for a bold and progressive populist solution.”

Biden took advantage of the new political environment by supporting a large COVID-19 bill rather than lowering price tags to get Republican votes, Jayapal said.

“The president has built some good intentions,” she said.

Mitchell and Adam Green, co-founders of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, described the progressive movement that has blossomed since the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama and the 2016 presidential election of Senator Bernie Sanders. There is a legal power player outside the room.

“Democrats and progressives are being tuned for the need to grow,” Green said. “If the majority of the debate is oversized, the debate over its tensions and priorities is not considered a civil war.”

Filibuster 50-50 Senate gives Biden’s Democratic predecessors Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson a majority of the types that have produced signed legislative outcomes such as the New Deal, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. There is also the perception that it is not the same as having.

This means that Green’s group maintains a “open line with many senators, including (Joe) Manchin,” a moderate West Virginia Democrat who opposes changes in filibuster. At the same time, the Working Families Party, a group of Mitchell, encouraged members of Manchin to put pressure on senators on the benefits of the proposal, especially election legislation and economic measures for the poor and middle class. I am. -Voting threshold. And both groups are urging Democrats to use Senate rules for bills that pass as much as possible with 50 votes, and are using Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker.

Meanwhile, Biden said Biden had promised to hold a White House meeting with members of Progressive Caucus soon.

She said such an internal and external strategy is how the Democratic Party can meet her “minimum” threshold to act prior to Congressman’s August recess.

It’s also a kind of approach that keeps involving activists like Joan Rivers.

“We saw the tea party win by saying no to everything,” she said of the conservative movement formed during the Obama era. “Once the election is over, we just keep telling our friends that we can’t go back to our lives.”