The power of the Progressive Caucus

Ed Lasky
I have been reading Glenn Beck's "Common Sense," his new book that is a clarion call for a concerned citizenry to rise up against the moves by Congress that diminish our nation's strength and weaken our freedom. One important dynamic for us to all appreciate is how Congress works-or doesn't. We need to understand the plumbing.

Congressional legislation often originates (or, in any case, has to pass through) various committees in Congress and the Senate.  These committees have initial jurisdiction over the subject matter of the legislation.  Revenue-raising bills must originate in the House of Representatives. Within these committees, the Chairmen of the Committees exercise outsized power. They are  the barons of Congress and decide what legislation to bring to the committee as a whole. They can fast track legislation or put it on the backburner. They can also table it entirely - which means it will often never see the light of day. Not without reason have congressional committees been called fiefdoms.

Occasionally, House committee members can take on the chairmen by forcing the legislation out of the committee so it can be voted on by the entire House of Representatives. This step is rare. It is considered bad form and is a sure track to perdition in the collegial halls of Congress. The reality is that committees are dominated by their Chairs who are members of the majority.

During this term, and for the foreseeable future, these have been Democrats. They often acquire Chairmanships by dint of seniority or by ability to raise money and curry the favor of Democratic leaders, such as Nancy Pelosi, who reward them with chairmanships. The nature of gerrymandered districts, along with the benefits that derive from incumbency, often results in the most left-wing (and right-wing when Republicans are the dominant party) members being Chairmen of Committees. Thus we have the likes of John Conyers, Charles Rangel, and Henry Waxman as chairmen of influential committees (Judiciary, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce Committee, respectively).


How does that dynamic play out in the current Congress?

Beck notes:

In 1991, the Progressive Congressional Committee Caucus was formed and its roster of members now includes over seventy representatives and one senator, Their power and influence is reflected in the fact that half of all House standing committees are chaired by members of this caucus. These politicians may be the most outspoken and radical members of the Progressive movement..

These are the people who control the levers of power, who control how much we are taxed, how much we go into debt, the direction of our nation's future, how much our freedoms are restricted. They are the parents of the nanny state. Their names can be found at their own website

Among the members are the aforementioned Conyers, Rangel and Waxman. So are Neil Abercrombie (one of the most left-wing members of Congress and a long-time friend of Barack Obama from his Hawaii days, Andre Carson and Keith Ellison; Dennis Kucinich, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Jim McDermott and James McGovern (who had no problem with Saddam Hussein), Maxine Waters (who likes using taxpayer money to bailout banks associated with her husband and likes to use pork barrel funding to name buildings after herself), Ed Markey (who partnered with Waxman to draft the cap and trade bill, polluted with all sorts of measures that will help damage our economy).

Sometimes the devil is in the details regarding who controls Congress. Keep your eyes focused on the list of these members of the so-called Progressive Caucus. They will determine much of our future,

I have been reading Glenn Beck's "Common Sense," his new book that is a clarion call for a concerned citizenry to rise up against the moves by Congress that diminish our nation's strength and weaken our freedom. One important dynamic for us to all appreciate is how Congress works-or doesn't. We need to understand the plumbing.

Congressional legislation often originates (or, in any case, has to pass through) various committees in Congress and the Senate.  These committees have initial jurisdiction over the subject matter of the legislation.  Revenue-raising bills must originate in the House of Representatives. Within these committees, the Chairmen of the Committees exercise outsized power. They are  the barons of Congress and decide what legislation to bring to the committee as a whole. They can fast track legislation or put it on the backburner. They can also table it entirely - which means it will often never see the light of day. Not without reason have congressional committees been called fiefdoms.

Occasionally, House committee members can take on the chairmen by forcing the legislation out of the committee so it can be voted on by the entire House of Representatives. This step is rare. It is considered bad form and is a sure track to perdition in the collegial halls of Congress. The reality is that committees are dominated by their Chairs who are members of the majority.

During this term, and for the foreseeable future, these have been Democrats. They often acquire Chairmanships by dint of seniority or by ability to raise money and curry the favor of Democratic leaders, such as Nancy Pelosi, who reward them with chairmanships. The nature of gerrymandered districts, along with the benefits that derive from incumbency, often results in the most left-wing (and right-wing when Republicans are the dominant party) members being Chairmen of Committees. Thus we have the likes of John Conyers, Charles Rangel, and Henry Waxman as chairmen of influential committees (Judiciary, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce Committee, respectively).


How does that dynamic play out in the current Congress?

Beck notes:

In 1991, the Progressive Congressional Committee Caucus was formed and its roster of members now includes over seventy representatives and one senator, Their power and influence is reflected in the fact that half of all House standing committees are chaired by members of this caucus. These politicians may be the most outspoken and radical members of the Progressive movement..

These are the people who control the levers of power, who control how much we are taxed, how much we go into debt, the direction of our nation's future, how much our freedoms are restricted. They are the parents of the nanny state. Their names can be found at their own website

Among the members are the aforementioned Conyers, Rangel and Waxman. So are Neil Abercrombie (one of the most left-wing members of Congress and a long-time friend of Barack Obama from his Hawaii days, Andre Carson and Keith Ellison; Dennis Kucinich, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Jim McDermott and James McGovern (who had no problem with Saddam Hussein), Maxine Waters (who likes using taxpayer money to bailout banks associated with her husband and likes to use pork barrel funding to name buildings after herself), Ed Markey (who partnered with Waxman to draft the cap and trade bill, polluted with all sorts of measures that will help damage our economy).

Sometimes the devil is in the details regarding who controls Congress. Keep your eyes focused on the list of these members of the so-called Progressive Caucus. They will determine much of our future,