- The first Indian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives had “seriously considered” a run for the top spot but opted against it.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) has announced that she will run for re-election to lead the Congressional Progressive Caucus, ending speculation of entering the House Democratic leadership race. “I am writing with humility, intentionality, and excitement to ask for your support to serve a second term as Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus,” she wrote in a letter to her colleagues.
Her humility appeared well-placed considering that midterm elections clearly indicated that a majority of the electorate voted for moderation, and seemingly against the so-called “woke” agenda of the progressives. Democrats lost the House majority thanks to several districts in blue New York and California turning against them. There is no doubt that the progressives are on the defensive across the board.
In the best of circumstances, running for leadership positions would entail broad support in the caucus which requires consensus-building capability, not to mention fundraising prowess. Given the limited support that progressives enjoy on the floor, Jayapal’s intent to enter the leadership race at all was audacious.
Apparently seeing the writing on the wall, Jayapal said she will put her energy “toward ensuring Democrats are not only a critically important ‘opposition’ party to push back on draconian MAGA-Republican policies, but also a ‘proposition’ party, with a real vision that builds an even bigger movement to lift up poor people, working people, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, and those who just need a leg up to thrive not just survive. That is what will help propel us to victory in 2024.”
In an interview with Politico, she said she’d “seriously considered” a run for House Democratic leadership, but opted against it.
She told The Associated Press that “the next two years are going to be important in a very different way than the last two years.” According to her, “the last two years were about governing, about pushing, about getting the most that we could get,” while “the next two years are going to be about being an opposition party, which I am extremely good at because I fought on immigrant rights and I came in 2016 when (Donald) Trump was elected.”
Jayapal, 56, became the first Indian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. A Democrat, she represents Washington’s 7th Congressional District, which encompasses most of Seattle and its surrounding areas including Shoreline, Vashon Island, Lake Forest Park, Edmonds, and parts of Burien and Normandy Park.
She has “helped progressives become a powerful force in Congress, leveraging their positions to negotiate directly with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had to navigate a narrow House majority, and President Joe Biden,” CNN reported.
The news network further noted that Jayapal’s decision “demonstrates that a path is clearing for the lawmakers seeking the top jobs” — Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, who announced his run for leader; assistant speaker Katherine Clark, who currently serves as and already announced her candidacy for Democratic whip; and Pete Aguilar, currently vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, who announced his run for caucus chair. The Democrats are holding their leadership elections Nov. 30.