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Behind recent Congressional Progressive Caucus wins, Rep. Ilhan Omar counts the votes

Rep. Ilhan Omar
REUTERS/Erin Scott
Even for those who follow Rep. Ilhan Omar’s work as a legislator, her role as Congressional Progressive Caucus whip is less well known.

Nancy Pelosi said no. There would be no changes. No chance, now, to stop the drug pricing bill the speaker of the House was pushing through the end of 2019.

The bill would allow for the federal government to directly negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. But members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) thought the bill was too weak. It didn’t go far enough to expand health care protections for those who needed it most.

Pelosi’s language was a stark change from the weeks prior, when it looked as though some CPC priorities would remain in the bill. Changes suggested by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, co-chair of the CPC, were slowly stripped from the bill in the days before the bill’s vote. And Democrats in the caucus, like Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, were incensed.

Privately, caucus leadership said they had the votes to tank the bill, should Pelosi not allow more ambitious provisions. Publicly, Jayapal told reporters during a tense week of negotiations: “We are waiting to see what we’ve got.”

In the end, the Progressive Caucus did not tank the legislation. Instead, its members were able to solidify a compromise. The caucus did not get everything it wanted, but it did score two key changes: one, mandated price negotiations on at least 25 drugs the first year, then a minimum of 50 after that; and two, stronger penalties for companies that raise the price of prescription drugs at a higher rate than inflation (Jayapal’s initially suggested changes).

Jayapal called the final result of the drug pricing bill “a huge win.”

The bill, The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, passed 191 to 228 by 18 votes. A majority, but a small margin that included the Progressive Caucus. Unlike years prior, the effort was a show of force for the the CPC: The Caucus successfully came together as a unit in order to ensure progressive priorities actually passed in the House.

While Congressional Progressive Caucus members MinnPost spoke to said it was a team effort, they said there is one person behind the scenes, having conversations, counting the votes, and setting the tone of the legislative agenda: CPC Whip Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Counting the votes

Even for those who follow Omar’s work as a legislator, her role as CPC whip is less well known. For a freshman congresswoman, it is unusual to have so much responsibility so early on. But Omar came to Congress wanting the job and requested it, seeing the CPC as a vehicle for the kind of progressive change she sought to make in Washington.

The job of whip takes a significant amount of skill and relationship building. Omar needs to drum up support for the caucus line. In order to do that, she needs to learn who is going to vote for legislation, who is going to vote against it, and why they’re going to vote that way. And in order to do that, she needs to spend time directly building rapport with representatives around the country, understanding their districts, and understanding where they are in terms of legislative priorities.

Omar said that when she is operating as whip, her priority is making sure that the Progressive Caucus has the votes for whatever piece of legislation it has prioritized: “In a whip operation, we don’t really get to have an opinion on where we’re pushing people.”

Initially, Omar’s office will send an email to the entire caucus to check the temperature: Where are they on a particular piece of legislation? Then they will begin the outreach process, member by member, until it’s clear that they have enough votes for whatever action they’re going to proceed with.

“My job is to try to give people an understanding of not where we should be, but where we really are,” Omar said, noting what strategies come to mind. “How much leverage we could have with our voice. Times where we should be fully engaging in a conversation. Times where we are much more powerful than we think we are. And times where we don’t really have that much leverage, but we need to be creative.”

Caucus ascendant

The changes on the drug pricing bill exemplify the caucus’ new-found power. Gone is the ragtag Progressive Caucus founded in 1991 by then-Rep. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). Gone, too, is the fledgling Progressive Caucus that Omar’s predecessor, Rep. Keith Ellison, worked to build as vice chair. In its place, under Jayapal and Co-Chair Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, a continuation, a stronger force, but something closer to what was mostly a vision during Ellison’s tenure: a Progressive Caucus, 98 members strong, that is getting used to holding its own and demanding legislative priorities.

“I think of us as the soul and conscience of the Democratic Party. … We have made that clear, and I’m pretty certain and confident that the Democratic caucus has a full grasp of what that is going to mean going in to this new session,” Omar said in 2018. 

The Progressive Caucus is now the second largest caucus under the Democratic Party, just shy of the 103 members of the moderate New Democrat Coalition. As long as Republicans vote no on Democratic legislation en masse, there is an opening for the CPC to provide an ultimatum: Make changes or the bill will not pass.

Omar said that behind the scenes, winning changes on the drug pricing bill was not as simple as standing as a united caucus from the get-go. She had to shore up the votes and remind caucus members that, even though they were one caucus, not everyone was on board with holding up Pelosi’s bill.

“There was a member of the Progressive Caucus who was like, ‘The majority of the progressive caucus is against this legislation.’ I was like, ‘No, actually, when we whip, this is the number of people. And this is what we can do with the number of votes that we have against the bill and how we can leverage that.’”

Jayapal, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Omar, told MinnPost that Omar does this kind of behind the scenes work consistently.

“I think that people don’t typically pay attention to the work that has to go on, that’s not sexy and loud and publicly facing,” Jayapal said. “But there is a lot that happens behind the scenes. And Ilhan is a worker. She’ll do the work. She’ll put in the time. She comes to the meetings. She is very much a part of the Progressive Caucus and we operate as a team.”

Operating as a team, Jayapal said, often means working to bring in everyone on strategy and ensure that legislators within the caucus find the approach agreeable. She said the drug pricing bill is a key example of how Omar is effective when it comes to doing that.

“I know Ilhan was important in sort of explaining to Representative Ocasio-Cortez about why we were doing it the way we were. And so those are the kinds of conversations that happen,” Jayapal said.

“All of us have them, but the whip has to manage.”

Leadership potential

Omar, a freshman, has served as whip since the start of her term in 2018. Jayapal said that she took an interest in taking on the job early and swiftly, suggesting key changes to the House Rules package that defines how the House functions on a day to day basis.

“It’s really great to have other movement organizers, folks of color, women of color who bring a really important, diverse perspective to the table and aren’t afraid to exercise power,” Jayapal said.

Others in the caucus, like Rep. Barbara Lee of California, pointed to Omar’s work on Medicare for All, The Raise the Wage Act, and the Yemen War Powers Resolution, as significant examples of Omar’s prowess to lead the caucus forward. The Yemen War Powers Resolution in particular was a case where Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, a Progressive Caucus vice chair, was able to very visibly rebuke the U.S’s involvement in Yemen. While President Donald Trump eventually vetoed the resolution, there too, members said, Omar played a significant role in whipping the vote.

“She has done an effective job with everything. Every job that she has either volunteered for or voted for or assigned,” said Lee, who previously served as both Progressive Caucus whip and co-chair. “It’s been really wonderful to see another black woman take up this mantle.”

Both Lee and Jayapal expect that, should Omar wanted to, she could move into a higher position of leadership in the near future within the CPC.

“All the big issues that our Democratic Caucus has embraced, that really speak to our work for the people, she’s helped pull together the votes for that,” said Lee. “And you don’t do that just by counting votes, but you do that by relationships and by knowing what people want, what their constituents want.”

While Omar has been involved in a variety of behind the scenes legislative discussions, coverage in cable media typically relies on what Trump has said or tweeted about her that particular day.

But embedded in the idea that her time is being sucked up by the endless vortex of cable news and feuds, the Fifth District congresswoman says there is an opportunity. The lack of coverage afforded to certain elements of Omar’s tenure in office, she says, has given her the space to build relationships, to surprise people, to hunker down and legislate. To count the numbers. To whip votes.

“Where nobody really expects you to do anything, there is actually more opportunity for you to do a lot more,” Omar said.

“And that has been, and will always, I think, be part of my legacy as a freshman here.”

Comments (45)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/21/2020 - 01:24 pm.

    Thanks for this Mr. Schneider.

  2. Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/21/2020 - 02:09 pm.

    The Democrats have their own tea party now.

    • Submitted by Arthur F Meincke on 01/22/2020 - 08:06 am.

      I am a Progressive Democrat, and I resent your notion that “we” have our “own Tea Party.” Your Republican Party is no more. It has become the Trump Fascist Party with too much stealing from others: too much racism: too much corruption: a Fascistic distribution of wealth that is taking our country (Republic) to the brink of destruction under President Trump.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 09:19 am.

        I’m not a Trump voter. I’ve been voting Democratic for nearly 40 years. But sadly, people like Omar are going to enable Trump voters.

        The tea party were conservative republicans who dragged Republicans to the right, prevented them from passing legislation, and hurt them electorally. That’s what we have now on the left.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/22/2020 - 09:08 am.

      Why is it that the self-described moderates in the Democratic Party are free to unload all manner of vitriol on progressives, but any push-back by progressives is divisive, and handing the election over to Trump again?

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 10:01 am.

        The tea party observation is a fact, not vitriol. Like the Republican tea party, the Democrats have a left flank that is willing to tank legislation that isn’t good enough. The parallel is there.

        And Omar’s response to the CNN reporter was just as pathetic as the response McSally gave to the same reporter. If we are going to be critical of Trump/Republican treatment of the press, we can’t give Omar a pass for engaging in the same terrible behavior.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/22/2020 - 12:11 pm.

          “The tea party observation is a fact, not vitriol.”

          I would call it an opinion, myself.

          “And Omar’s response to the CNN reporter was just as pathetic as the response McSally gave to the same reporter.”

          Another opinion.

          “If we are going to be critical of Trump/Republican treatment of the press, we can’t give Omar a pass for engaging in the same terrible behavior.”

          Right, because any criticism of (or snippy retort to) an individual reporter is the same as Trump’s efforts to muzzle a free and critical press, or a Republican’s name-calling to a reporter. The media should remain unaccountable, because Republicans want to suppress it.

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 05:04 pm.

            The strawman is strong with this comment. I didn’t say what Omar did was equivalent to all of Trump’s behavior. And I said nothing about the media not being held accountable.

            Both Omar and McSally were asked valid questions by a respected reporter. And both McSally and Omar demonstrated their lack of class and integrity by insulting the reporter instead of answering.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/23/2020 - 09:00 am.

              “Are you serious?” vs. “liberal hack.”

              Yes, they are entirely the same. Thank you for remembering Rep. Omar’s rudeness from over a year ago.

    • Submitted by Nicky Noel on 01/22/2020 - 10:07 am.

      The Tea Party used its power to prevent anything from happening whatsoever — they even shut down the government entirely without any plan of meeting their legislative goals. Meanwhile, the Progressive Caucus is using smart politics & good relationships to make tangible, beneficial changes to legislation that is then passed & signed into law. There is no comparison between these groups.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 10:31 am.

        Completely wrong. The left tea party is using dumb and naive politics to forward legislation that won’t ever pass. Its tanking reasonable, compromise bills that might have a chance at becoming law in favor of pie-in-the-sky legislation that won’t.

        Its exactly like the right’s tea party. There is no comparison ideologically between the two, but the practical effect is a near-perfect parallel.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/23/2020 - 01:45 pm.

          So if they don’t particularly care for those “reasonable, compromise bills”, or believe that the constituency that elected them (which is generally as left as they are) doesn’t like them, they are just supposed to go ahead and vote for them because reasons? Maybe because centrists yell a lot? What exactly is it that you believe these people are elected to do if not represent their constituent’s interests?

        • Submitted by Nicky Noel on 01/23/2020 - 03:25 pm.

          Did you look into any of the bills discussed here? Many of the things Rep. Omar helped whip ended up passing the full House and a few even passed the Senate (e.g. the Yemen war powers resolution, which was vetoed by Trump). Your argument does not hold water…

  3. Submitted by Peter Zeftel on 01/21/2020 - 03:16 pm.

    We are lucky to have such a good representative in Congress as Ilhan!

    • Submitted by Arthur F Meincke on 01/22/2020 - 07:21 am.

      As a former Minnesota resident of the 5th Congressional District, I wholeheartedly support Representative Omar. I thank her for her leadership in the Democrat Party, Minnesota, and the Democrat Party at the national level.

  4. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/21/2020 - 03:17 pm.

    Interesting to see that the CNN reporter who Senator Martha McSally called “a liberal hack” got the same treatment from Ilan Omar in a similar snarky hallway questioning scenario.

    AOC, Pressley and Talib are smart, prepared and savvy proponents of their political positions. Not convinced Omar is and too many are giving her a pass based on her “squad” partners.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/22/2020 - 08:43 am.

    I draw everyone’s attention to the fact that the first and loudest critics here are the “moderate/centrist” HRC supporters, many of whom have been pretending to support one of Omar’s fellow progressives (Warren) recently.

    The toxicity, intolerance, dishonesty, and divisive nature of these Democrats is always the first order of business. These radical “centrists” who denounce and attack anyone or any idea beyond their own narrow range of consideration is frequently the most vociferous expression of intolerance and extremism we see. We don’t have a “new” Democratic Tea Party, but we can see with absolute clarity the “centrist” Tea Party that’s been controlling the Democrats for decades now.

    The fact that such people will denounce and attack measures that improve the lives of millions of Americans and those who champion such measure, reveals just how toxic and destructive their limited imaginations can be. Not only do they hand the White House over to Donald Trump with their incompetent regime of inept failure, but they go on to work with Republicans who want to inflict and continue inflicting unnecessary suffering, death, discrimination, and inequality upon tens of millions of Americans. The impulse to label anyone who wants to remedy any of our crises rather than tinker with margins (and seek Republican cooperation), as a “leftist” reveals an egocentric pathology that rivals that of Trumps and his followers.

    The fact these Democrats expect support for their pathological politics and immoral policies simply reveals their toxic sense of entitlement and privilege.

    Fortunately the winds of change have finally gathered strength and the limited and immoral agenda of failure that’s inflicted so much suffering for decades is finally in retreat. With any luck the howls of Clintonian sycophants will be drowned out by the cries for equality and demands for progress and justice. Until then we must note that continued suffering, death, inequality, discrimination, misogyny, and desperation aren’t just the “best” such Democrats can do… it’s what they actually PROMISE to deliver.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 09:53 am.

      Why do you think anyone is pretending to support Warren? She’s a smarter, far more capable progressive than Sanders. But it really isn’t about progressive values. Its about Bernie. In his world and that of his supporters, only Bernie is the one.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/22/2020 - 11:10 am.

        Because It’s obviously about attacking Sanders, not supporting Warren. Are you telling us that Warren is your #1 choice now Pat? Have you been promoting Warren all along? Are you now a champion of MFA, and student loan forgiveness, and free State College tuitions? For months you guys have been dismissing Warren as unelectable and her agenda as a collection of “pipe dreams” but NOW you’re her champion?

        I don’t know who you guys think your fooling but those of us who’ve supported Warren’s agenda and been willing to vote for Warren long before Warren even entered the race are not impressed. You’re hatred for Sanders and Omar has been noted, but your attempt feign support for progressives is somewhat comical to be honest.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 05:23 pm.

          Warren isn’t my first choice, but she’s definitely an option for me. I’d take her over Biden without question. Sanders is really the only guy I have been dismissing, but a lot of that is because of his corruption, dishonesty and misogyny. Medicare for all would be great, but it will never be found constitutional so its a waste of time.

          You guys (since we are using “you guys”) rail against incremental change, but its the only way progress has ever happened. All the big ticket items are great, but the political will isn’t there. You guys have this fantasy that we live in a secretly progressive country, and if the Democrats just all embraced a left-wing agenda, everyone would get behind it. It just isn’t going to happen.

          When Clinton was saying no one likes Sanders (which was a dumb thing to say) she was referring to their time in the Senate. When other Democrats were working to pass incremental change, Sanders was doing nothing. When Clinton was out raising money for years to elect other Democrats, Sanders didn’t lift a finger to help anyone. That’s why their senate colleagues and the “democratic establishment” all endorsed her last time around.

          You view everything through the lens of progressive and neoliberal, as if its a binary choice. There’s a lot more going on than that. A lot of moderates are that way because that’s how they can win elections. That’s how legislation could get passed. That’s how things get done. Sure, free college and MFA sounds awesome, but what going that route is going to get you is nothing.

          • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 01/23/2020 - 08:26 pm.

            Some legislation has moved very rapidly when the will of the people is behind it. Amendments to the Constitution are very difficult to get enacted, but the 26th amendment giving the right to vote to those eighteen and older was introduced in the early 70’s and ratified by the states very quickly.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/24/2020 - 07:55 am.

            Yes Pat, most of are perfectly aware of the fact that your “support” for Warren is purely incidental to your hate on Sanders… I’ve already pointed that out. A detailed explanation for your rejection of Warren and your continued belief that she’s unelecetable really wasn’t necessary.

            Thank you for confirming my observation I guess.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/22/2020 - 12:36 pm.

      “The fact these Democrats expect support for their pathological politics and immoral policies simply reveals their toxic sense of entitlement and privilege.”

      That animosity almost could be described as:

      “toxicity, intolerance, dishonesty, and divisive nature.”

      Here is the reality as I see it:

      Get a nice big, black, wide tipped magic marker and draw a 10′ horizontal line on your living room wall. At one end label it: dictator led, totalitarian state and the other end: socialist nirvana. Next, 2.5 feet from the dictator end write Trump lives here. Next 2.5 feet from the socialist nirvana end write Democrats live here. Give Bernie a mark 10% closer to socialist nirvana, give Biden a mark 10% closer to the middle. Put the rest of the D candidates somewhere between these two.

      Now, step back and admire your work. Notice that over 120 inches of you new wall art, Sanders and Biden are separated by 6″ or 5%, while the Ds and Trump are separated by 60″ or 50%.

      Some folks are more concerned with dealing with the 5% gap than the 50% gap.

      I will cheerfully and gladly vote for anyone in the Biden to Bernie zone. Without hesitation.

      For Bernie and Biden to argue about who is the better friend to Social Security is beyond crazy. They both are so far beyond Trump that finding a difference between them is a frivolous waste of time. No matter how you slice it, Sanders and Biden are far closer in philosophy and practice than either is to Trump philosophy and practice.

      Now, go to Menards and buy some primer and paint….

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/24/2020 - 08:03 am.

        Edward, I know this can come as a shock to those with a certain sense of entitlement and privilege but when you attack someone you provoke a response. It is the attacker who provokes the fight, not the defender.

        If you guys think it’s a good idea to attack progressive candidates rather than promote your own candidates I can’t stop you from doing that. But you should know that you will provoke a response and we will not apologize for our responses nor be embarrassed. You want a fight… you’ll get one.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/26/2020 - 12:15 pm.


          Kind of like:

          “If you hit me, I hit back twice as hard”

          Nice to see you have reached congruence with DJT

          • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/26/2020 - 12:25 pm.

            And another point of your agreement with DJT:

            Bernie is the preferred D candidate fro 2020


          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/26/2020 - 08:30 pm.

            Whatever Edward, if you want to walk around hitting people your the one who looks like Trump I’m afraid. And yes, bullies prefer a world where no one ever hits back.

            • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/27/2020 - 07:56 am.

              Maybe go back and reread my original post.

              Did you notice that I said I will cheerfully and enthusiastically vote for Bernie?

              Can you say the same for Biden?

              Again, as I tried to express, the highest priority is moving on from Trump. The process to the nomination is what it (flawed) is: I accept the results and will support the winner.

              Your compulsion to attack anyone who does not support Bernie as having a:

              “certain sense of entitlement and privilege”

              Is generalization and stereotyping to the extreme. Why do Biden / Warren / Buttigieg / Klobuchar / Assorted Billionaires / Patrick / Yang supporters all share this characteristic and you and the Bernie Bros do not…

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/27/2020 - 08:52 am.

                Edward, we’re not talking about Bernie here. I am responding to attacks on Omar, this is an article about Omar.

                We can all see that this hate on Bernie dominates some mentalities around here. A willingness to vote for the Democratic nominee in the end doesn’t inoculate anyone from that toxic mentality.

                No, I won’t vote for Biden, but I’m not attacking him or his supporters, I’m just saying I won’t vote for him. I refuse to vote for a regime that’s been empowering Fascists for decades, so no, don’t expect me to apologize or equivocate that position. Biden’s suggestion that he would consider putting a Republican on the ballot next to is simply disqualifying as far as I’m concerned.

                The fact that you claim to be willing to vote for Sanders’s doesn’t erase your hostility or mitigate your assumption that your entitled to attack liberals and progressives like Omar without provoking a response. Again, I can’t make you play nice with others, but if you choose not to you can’t expect others will play nice with you, your “vote” for Sanders or anyone else doesn’t buy you that privilege.

                • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/27/2020 - 09:13 pm.

                  Again, you generalize others in a way that your would never accept for yourself.

                  The ONLY progressive candidate I have expressed disagreement with is Omar. She will blow up and bring discredit to the progressive work of others. Example:

                  “Rep. Ilhan Omar paid another $150,000 to Tim Mynett’s political consulting group in the three months after The Post first revealed allegations the pair were romantically involved, records show.

                  The 37-year-old Minnesota congresswoman’s campaign has funneled $146,712.63 to Mynett’s E Street Group since The Post in August reported allegations she was having an affair with her paid consultant, records show.”

                  Omar’s response? Deny everything.

                  My first choice is beating Trump. My preferred candidate is Warren.

                  I’m not allowed even one dissent from the party line comrade? I guess I am off to the Gulag.

  6. Submitted by lisa miller on 01/22/2020 - 10:57 am.

    Many don’t support Warren or even HRC. Also, one could argue Omar has gone moderate according to this article. Then again, being in power usually forces one to move to the center. Reality bites when it comes to passing legislation. Privilege is being able to make lovely statements and not having to live with the effects of Trump results.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/22/2020 - 11:16 am.

      I hate to tell you this but the “center” is moving to the left, it’s actually “centrists” who being pushed back to the REAL center which quite a ways to the left of where they’ve been sitting now for decades.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 11:18 am.

      Your last couple of sentences are perfect.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/24/2020 - 08:06 am.

      And there you have it… ” moderate support” for Warren lasted what? One week? And now it’s back to dismissing her as a unrealistic and unelectable dreamer of liberal dreams.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/24/2020 - 09:36 am.

    Just to repeat, Conservatives who vote (and have been voting for decades) for Democratic candidates that promise to leave tens of millions of Americans (and others) suffering under the weight of multiple crises can certainly pretend to be suddenly concerned about those who suffer under Trump.

    The problem these “moderates” who are suddenly worried about the suffering they’ve been ignoring for decades cannot expect to enjoy any credibility. Their search for incremental improvements that limit policy to delivering the least amount of relief to the smallest number of people was inflicting damage on tens of millions of Americans long before Trump got elected. The fact that they claim this was the “best” they could do simply reveals how toxic and insufficient that agenda is. That would be bad enough but here you see actual attacks and hostility towards anyone who wants to do more.

    Some of us knew how important it was to defeat Trump in 2016 and wanted to put a candidate on the ballot that would have done so. Those who chose instead to pursue their dream of watching HRC be HRC in the White House may NOW realize how important it is to defeat Trump, better late than never I guess. However we must note that these “moderate” Democrats have thus far refused to recognize their catastrophic failure and continue to insist that their failed regime is the only path to victory in 2020. This kind of mentality actually looks more like the kind of magical thinking you get from extremist; it bears little resemblance to a mentality that is tethered to “reality” in the way it’s proponents claim.

  8. Submitted by Tom Crain on 01/26/2020 - 11:51 am.

    Thank you for this informative article about Omar’s whip position on one of the largest and most important congressional caucuses. It prompted me to look up membership for my own congress person – Betty McCollum – to see if she was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This caucus represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic House (as the late-great P. Wellstone would say) holding 98 of 235 (D) seats.

    Alas, she is not; nor is she a member of the other major Dem caucus: the New Democratic Coalition (moderates) Caucus holding 105 of 235 (D) seats. This caucus describes itself as “moderate” and “pro-growth” (are the any anti-growth caucuses?)

    That leaves only 32 (D) members not aligning with one of these two major caucuses. Perhaps she is a member of the Blue Dogs, the political successors to a Southern Democratic group known as the Boll Weevils? Yes there are still Blue Dogs (27 members) and no she is not a member here either.

    Is Betty one of only 5 members who declines to sub-caucus? No, she doesn’t appear to be opposed to caucus membership as she has 60 different caucuses listed on her congressional website including Congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus and the essential Congressional Soccer Caucus.

    In any case my math may not hold as it appears some HRs – like Angie Craig, for example – are members of both the Progressive and New Dem caucuses. Maybe she sits in with the Blue Dogs too. Why choose just one?

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/28/2020 - 11:18 am.


    “My first choice is beating Trump. My preferred candidate is Warren.

    I’m not allowed even one dissent from the party line comrade? I guess I am off to the Gulag.”

    I’m afraid your own inability to distinguish between someone disagreeing with you and someone oppressing you simply circles back to you’re own sense of entitlement and privilege. You have written several comments now and all you keep doing is circling back to you own outrage that your perspective isn’t granted uncritical acceptance. The fact that you keep trying to characterize you equal status with other opinions as some kind persecution is kind of comical to honest.

    And yes, we’ve already noted your hostility towards Omar, I won’t repeat my response. I would simply suggest you read your own comment and then tell us who wants to send whom off to a Gulag somewhere?

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/30/2020 - 11:23 pm.

      For those scoring at home, we have:

      QTY 3: “back to you’re own sense of entitlement and privilege.”

      QTY 1: “The toxicity, intolerance, dishonesty, and divisive nature”

      QTY 1: “support for their pathological politics and immoral policies”

      QTY 1: “reveals an egocentric pathology”

      QTY 1: “toxic and insufficient”


      You just described folks who will, in the end, support a candidate opposing Trump other than Bernie as:

      Toxic, intolerant, dishonest, divisive, pathological, immoral with an egocentric pathology and a extreme sense of privilege and entitlement.

      I added extreme cause you got that in there 3 times.

      And those that disagree with you are the snarky, outraged ones?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/02/2020 - 09:56 am.

        Edward, simply accusing me of compiling a list of qualities some “moderate” Democrats posses isn’t the devastating observation you seem to think it is. I won’t deny having said any of these things, but I wasn’t referring to everyone who refuses to vote for anyone other than Sanders, in fact I have not once mentioned Sanders in my comment other that to acknowledge the attacks on Sanders.

        I haven’t actually endorsed anyone, and the only candidate I won’t vote for is Biden. I’ve been clear about this throughout the thread. If you want people to vote for someone other than Omar and Sanders, why don’t you give us someone we’d rather vote for instead of launching these toxic and divisive attacks on people you don’t want us to vote for? You guys can stop being toxic and divisive any time you want.

        All I’m saying is that no matter who you want to vote for, if you behave this way, you can expect to be confronted, not celebrated. And yes, for the last time in this thread, I’ll repeat: those who expect to behave this way without provoking responses or who consider themselves to be victims of persecution whenever their toxic behavior provokes responses… are simply displaying their sense of privilege and entitlement.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/31/2020 - 08:10 am.

      By the way, if Warren were to get elected she’ll need all the Omar’s in congress she can get. Those who clam to support Warren and her agenda while attacking Omar are clearly being counterproductive or even disingenuous.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/31/2020 - 11:46 am.

        So you’re telling us if we lose Omar, the MN 5 CD may be represented by some Michelle Bachmann like right wing extremist?

        To put this to rest: WHOEVER gets elected in the MN 5 CD will be a loyal ally of the progressive cause as evidenced by 50 years of history:

        From Fraser to Sabo to Ellison to Omar.

        And, in all truth and honesty, as a DeLaSalle parent during the football field debate, I did support and contribute to Omar’s campaign to unseat Phyllis Kahn.

        Sorry Phyllis. Please accept my apology. Any chance you have one more run in you? I’m sure that even Mr. Udstrand would find you an acceptably progressive candidate to take on Omar in a primary.

        The Squad, V2:

        AOC, Talib, Pressley and Kahn. A much better age and ethnicity demo…

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2020 - 06:14 pm.

          Omar has that seat for as long as she want’s. Clearly the majority of her constituents don’t share Mr. Blaise’s (or others) hostility. Ms. Khan is unlikely to make a comeback although I wish her well.

  10. Submitted by Gary DeVaan on 02/04/2020 - 04:29 pm.

    Rep Omar is an example of an immigrant who works hard to make our country live up to the ideals of the United States. So our country continues to be the shining city on the hill.

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