Congressional Progressive Caucus

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Congressional Progressive Caucus
Senate chairman Bernie Sanders
House chairman Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison
Executive Director Mike Darner
Founded 1991
Ideology Progressivism
Social democracy
Political position Center-left to Left-wing
National affiliation Democratic Party
Colors Blue
Seats in the Senate
1 / 100
Seats in the House
68 / 435
Politics of United States
Political parties
Elections

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest membership organization within the Democratic Caucus in the United States Congress with 69 declared members.[1] They work to advance progressive liberal issues and positions.[2]

The CPC is currently co-chaired by U.S. Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN). It was founded in 1991 and has grown steadily since then, having more recently added 20 members since 2005 and having hired its first full-time Executive Director, Bill Goold, in May of that year. Subsequent Executive Directors have included Andrea Miller (2009-2011) and Brad Bauman (2011-2014). The current Executive Director is Mike Darner. Of the 20 standing committees of the House in the 111th Congress, 10 were chaired by members of the CPC. Those chairmen were replaced when the Republicans took control of the House in the 112th Congress.

Background[edit]

The CPC is committed to government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Their policy agenda is rooted in four core principles: (1) fighting for economic justice and security in the U.S. and global economies; (2) protecting and preserving civil rights and civil liberties; (3) promoting global peace and security; and (4) strengthening environmental protection and energy independence. Their fundamental fairness plan reflects national priorities that are consistent with the values, needs, and hopes of all Americans, not just the powerful and the privileged. Accordingly, the CPC also advocates "universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare", fair trade agreements, living wage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage in collective bargaining, the abolition of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, US participation in international treaties such as the climate change related Kyoto Accords, strict campaign finance reform laws, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on upper-middle and upper class households, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.[3]

Legislative history[edit]

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) was established in 1991 by six members of the United States House of Representatives: U.S. Representatives Ron Dellums (D-CA), Lane Evans (D-IL), Thomas Andrews (D-ME), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Additional House Members joined soon thereafter, including Major Owens (D-NY), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), David Bonior (D-MI), Bob Filner (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Patsy Mink (D-HI), George Miller (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA), John Olver (D-MA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Then-U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders was the convener and first CPC Chairman. Bill Goold served as Staff Coordinator for the Progressive Caucus in its early years until 1998.

The founding CPC members were concerned about the economic hardship imposed by the deepening recession, and the growing inequality brought about by the timidity of the Democratic Party response in the early 1990s. More importantly, on January 3, 1995 at a standing room only news conference on Capitol Hill, they were the first group inside Congress to chart a detailed, comprehensive legislative alternative to U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican Contract with America, which they termed "the most regressive tax proposals and reactionary social legislation the Congress had before it in 70 years." The CPC's ambitious agenda was framed as "The Progressive Promise: Fairness."

Job Creation and Invest in America Act[edit]

The first in a legislative package of more than a dozen separate bills that were offered was the Job Creation and Invest in America Act of 1995 to stimulate economic growth in the American economy. It would have provided $63.6 billion/year and created at least one million new jobs/year in each of the first two years that the bill would have been in effect. Roughly 2/3 of that total would have gone for new federal outlays and the remaining 1/3 would have provided tax relief to middle and low-income working families. The prescribed $41.6 billion in federal outlays would have been spent for a combination of new investments in physical infrastructure and to help targeted Americans in need as follows:

  • $10 billion for repairing highways and bridges;
  • $1.6 billion for improving/expanding mass transit systems;
  • $1 billion for airport improvements;
  • $1 billion to upgrade rail travel/freight shipping;
  • $4 billion for construction of new water and sewage treatment facilities;
  • $4 billion for environmental clean-up at military and U.S. Energy Department facilities;
  • $4 billion for economic development projects in major cities, towns and neighborhoods;
  • $3 billion for improving existing schools/libraries and building new ones;
  • $1 billion for energy efficiency improvements in federal buildings;
  • $1 billion for community developments banks in low-income communities to stimulate targeted lending and local economic development projects;
  • $2 billion to train low-income Americans for careers in disseminating basic health care and disease prevention information;
  • $1 billion for youth apprenticeship training programs serving 14-21 year olds;
  • $2.5 billion for hiring new teachers, tutors, and specially-trained instructors to improve school standards;
  • $4 billion for Head Start to cover all eligible 3-5 year olds;
  • $900 million for community-based efforts to prevent AIDS, breast and cervical cancer, tuberculosis, and lead exposure;
  • $400 million to expand migrant and homeless health centers;
  • $100 million for states and communities to train local residents to provide health and disease prevention materials; and
  • $100 million for scholarships and loan programs for doctors and nurse practitioners in under-served communities.

The prescribed tax relief for working families would have included:

  • $16 billion in tax credits equal to 20% of a worker's FICA contribution, capped at $200/individual; and
  • $6 billion in tax credits up to $6,000/year for first-time homebuyers with an annual income of $62,000 or less.

All of the new spending and tax relief would have been fully paid for by eliminating tax loopholes that reward U.S.-based transnational corporations for investing abroad and exporting U.S. jobs and through carefully targeted tax increases that would have been levied on the unearned income of upper-income Americans. These revenue raisers of $85.3 - $95.3 billion/year would have kicked in the third year after enactment and would have remained in effect thereafter. They broke down as follows:

  • $16.5 billion by changing the foreign tax credit to a deduction;
  • $1.6 billion by eliminating deferral of income from controlled foreign corporations;
  • $28.7 billion from crackdown on transfer pricing by transnational corporations;
  • $30–40 billion from .25% tax each time stock ownership is transferred;
  • $7.0 billion from terminating preferred tax treatment of capital gains relative to earned income; and
  • $1.5-$2.2 billion from capital gains tax on inherited investment (i.e. eliminate stepped up basis at death.)[4]

Additional path-breaking bills in the package included:

  • The Public Interest Legislature Act to strengthen the financial disclosure requirements on Members of Congress and professional staff, especially detailing exact sources and amounts of unearned income, securities holdings, and other assets and to require that Members of Congress place their stocks, bonds, and other securities as well as real property holdings in blind trusts upon taking office as a good conduct measure and to require that Members of Congress divest themselves of any substantial asset in relation to his/her respective committee assignments which could pose a direct financial conflict of interest with the work and actions of those committees;
  • The Fiscal Fairness Act to permit the Congress to waive the provisions of a Balanced Budget Amendment,(if adopted),in any fiscal year in which the national unemployment rate exceeds 4%. Also would restore progressivity in federal income tax code to its condition in the late 1970s, prior to enactment of the Reagan tax cuts;
  • The Equal Justice Before the Law Act—to crackdown on white collar crime (e.g. levy stiff penalties in conjunction with savings and loan bailout; ban on bidding by companies that defraud federal government on procurement contracts; impose criminal penalties for willful violation of child labor laws by employers that result in serious bodily injury or death of minors in the workplace; treat child labor imports as contraband; and eliminate deductibility of legal expenses when a company is accused of a crime);
  • The Corporate Responsibility Act—to eliminate wide array of special interest subsidies and tax expenditures of benefit to many of America's largest corporations, thus ending corporate welfare and requiring companies to internalize their costs of production rather than continue to foist them on the general public;
  • The Family Support Act—to strengthen child support compliance, including going after the financial assets of well-to-so non-custodial parents; toughening domestic violence and child abuse laws and prosecution; identifying ways in which to get unwed teenage fathers as well as unwed teenage mothers to own up to their responsibilities; and exploring ways to establish some measure of media liability for gratuitous violence that is deliberately incited by movies and other forms of mass media;
  • The American Homemakers and Caregivers Act—to target savings incentives and IRAs on middle and low-income Americans. Special provisions designed to extend generous IRA contribution options to spouses who stay home to nurture children during their first six years of life, thus recognizing the importance of parental child rearing and financially rewarding young spouses who give this responsibility top priority during some of their prime earning years outside of the home. Allow middle and low-income Americans to make penalty-free IRA withdrawals for home health care, education expenses, or to start a small business;
  • The National Economic Security Act—to substantially cut the Pentagon and CIA budgets and Star Wars funding to shift resources to meet domestic social needs and long-term investments to strengthen the U.S. national economy and competitiveness;
  • The Export American Products, Not American Jobs Act—to eliminate a wide array of tax and trade incentives (e.g. foreign tax credit) and taxpayer-financed programs (e..g. EX-IM Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation insurance and loans) that encourage and reward U.S.-based transnational corporations for investing and producing overseas rather than in new plants, jobs, and equipment in the U.S.; and
  • The Taking Back Our Congress Act—to strengthen lobbying restrictions and to reform campaign finance laws to redress influence-peddling and special interest lobbying inside Congress. Also prohibit U.S. government officials (e..g. trade negotiators) from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments and companies. Plus authorize voluntary public financing of congressional elections and make it easier for independent candidates to run for federal office.[5]

The CPC also made a splash and stretched public debate in its early development by hosting a day-long Capitol Hill Forum on Globalization, Economic Justice, and Human Rights, during which Noam Chomsky, distinguished linguist and social commentator, was the keynote speaker—his only public testimony ever presented before Congress.

Past CPC Chairmen have also included U.S. Representative Peter Defazio (D-OR), and former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). In an unprecedented move at the outset of the 109th Congress (2005-2006), U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) approached U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), who had served as Vice-Chair in the prior Congress, to ask to run with her as proposed Co-Chairs. U.S. Representative Lee assented and they were subsequently elected to serve as Co-Chairs throughout the 109th Congress and the 110th Congress, leadership positions from which they spearheaded congressional opposition to the U.S. military invasion and occupation of Iraq and built subsequent bipartisan support for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from that country. Both announced plans to step down at the end of the 110th Congress, but U.S. Representative Woolsey subsequently changed her mind and decided to continue as a Co-Chair for an additional term that expired at the end of the 111th Congress.[6]

The CPC's founding statement of purpose states that it was "organized around the principles of social and economic justice, a non-discriminatory society, and national priorities which represent the interests of all people, not just the wealthy and powerful". The founding members underscored that the Cold War was over, and that the nation's budget and overall priorities should show that. They called for cuts in outdated and unnecessary military spending, a more progressive tax system which places a larger portion of the tax burden on corporations and those with higher earnings, a substantial increase in federal funding for social programs designed to meet the needs of low and middle-income American families, and trade policies that increase the exports of more American products and encourage the creation of well-paying jobs and sound investment in America. They also expressed their belief that those policy goals could be achieved in concert with a commitment to long-term fiscal responsibility.


Budget proposal for 2012[edit]

In April 2011, the Congressional Progressive Caucus released a proposed "People's Budget" for fiscal year 2012.[7] Two of its proponents stated: "By implementing a fair tax code, by building a resilient American economy, and by bringing our troops home, we achieve a budget surplus of over $30 billion by 2021 and we end up with a debt that is less than 65% of our GDP. This is what sustainability looks like."[8]

Supporting organizations[edit]

The non-profit organization most closely associated with the Congressional Progressive Caucus is ProgressiveCongress.org which works to connect the caucus to progressives outside the Congress.

In addition, an array of national liberal organizations work to support the efforts of the progressive caucus, including the Institute for Policy Studies, The Nation magazine, MoveOn.org, National Priorities Project, Jobs with Justice, Peace Action, Americans for Democratic Action,and Progressive Democrats of America. Also co-sponsoring the kickoff event were the NAACP, ACLU, Progressive Majority, League of United Latin American Citizens, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, National Council of La Raza, Hip Hop Caucus, Human Rights Campaign, Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, and the National Hip Hop Political Convention.

House members[edit]

Map of districts of House caucus members during the 113th Congress

All members are members of the Democratic Party or caucus with the Democratic Party. In the 113th Congress there are currently 71 declared Progressives, including 68 voting Representatives, two non-voting Delegates, and one Senator.

Arizona[edit]

California[edit]

Colorado[edit]

Connecticut[edit]

Florida[edit]

Georgia[edit]

Illinois[edit]

Indiana[edit]

Iowa[edit]

Maine[edit]

Maryland[edit]

Massachusetts[edit]

Michigan[edit]

Minnesota[edit]

Mississippi[edit]

Missouri[edit]

Nevada[edit]

New Hampshire[edit]

New Jersey[edit]

New Mexico[edit]

New York[edit]

North Carolina[edit]

Ohio[edit]

Oregon[edit]

Pennsylvania[edit]

Rhode Island[edit]

Tennessee[edit]

Texas[edit]

Vermont[edit]

Virginia[edit]

Washington[edit]

Wisconsin[edit]

Non-voting[edit]

Senate member[edit]

Former members[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/caucus-members/
  2. ^ About the CPC, CPC Website, accessed Oct 8, 2009
  3. ^ CPC (2012). The Progressive Promise. Retrieved on 2012-04-14 from http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=63&sectiontree=2,63.
  4. ^ National news release from the Congressional Progressive Caucus on January 3, 1995
  5. ^ National news release from Congressional Progressive Caucus on January 3, 1995
  6. ^ Caucus archives
  7. ^ "The People's Budget". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  8. ^ Honda, Michael; Grijalva, Raul (April 11, 2011), "The only real Democratic budget", The Hill 

External links[edit]