House Democratic candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is thinking about starting a sub-caucus of progressive members if she wins office in November.
“The thing that gives the caucus power is that you can operate as a bloc vote in order to get things done,” Ocasio-Cortez said on a Jacobin Radio podcast July 9. “Even if you can carve out a sub-portion, a sub-caucus of the progressive caucus, even if you could carve out that, even a smaller bloc, but one that operates as a bloc, then you could generate real power.”
Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York — the fourth highest ranking Democrat in the House — lost his district primary in June to first-time, far-left Democrat Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley was widely expected to be a frontrunner for speaker if Democrats took back the lower chamber in November. (RELATED: Crowley Is Not Backing Pelosi For Speaker)
What Ocasio-Cortez appears to be referencing is something similar to the conservative bloc of House Freedom Caucus (HFC) members that broke off from the larger Republican Study Committee in 2015, ousting former Speaker of the House John Boehner.
There is currently a progressive group in Congress — the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). The CPC has some 78 members, which is a large enough group, Ocasio-Cortez argues, to make it difficult for the coalition to vote as a united bloc. (RELATED: Bill Forces DOJ To Hand Over Documents)
She envisions a small group of 10 to 30 people who would “operate as a bloc, to really make strong demands on things.”
The HFC has 36 members and a few honorary members from the larger RSC that, more often than not, vote in-line with their conservative colleagues. The conservative caucus has had success in trading their votes for concessions from Republican leadership. At other times, the HFC has used its leverage to derail bills it feels are too moderate or are giveaways to the Democrats. (RELATED: Why The HFC Killed The Farm Bill)
HFC members shot down a farm bill in mid-May to secure a vote on an immigration proposal they were promised months earlier and derail a push from moderate Republicans who wanted to get a vote on a DREAMer protections bill.
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