Headline, Politics

Pramila Jayapal not in race for House Democratic leadership

Pramila JayapalIndian American lawmaker seeking to stay Progressive Caucus chair

Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has told colleagues she will not enter the House Democratic leadership race and instead will run for reelection as Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair.

Jayapal, the first Indian American woman to serve in the US House of Representatives, announced her decision in a letter to her colleagues Friday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped down from House leadership, CNN reported.

Democrats are holding their leadership elections Nov 30.

Read: Election 2022: Desi winners and losers in US House races (November 11, 2022)

“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,” Jayapal wrote.

As Democrats craft their new leadership slate she wants to make sure that “progressives are given their seat at the table,” Jayapal told CNN. She argued that progressives delivered in the 2022 midterms and with the agenda of the current Congress, and she wants to make sure “that is appreciated and front and center.”

She also acknowledged the challenges House Democrats face as they become the minority party in January when the control of the chamber passes to the Republicans.

“The next two years are going to be important in a very different way than the last two years were,” Jayapal said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

“The last two years were about governing, about pushing, about getting the most that we could get,” she wrote. “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.”

First elected in 2016, the lawmaker representing Washington’s 7th Congressional district, has helped progressives become a powerful force in Congress, leveraging their positions to negotiate directly with Pelosi, who had to navigate a narrow House majority, and President Joe Biden, CNN noted.

Read: Ami Bera vying to lead House Democratic campaign arm (November 15, 2022)

Jayapal was at the forefront of negotiations surrounding the American Rescue Plan and expanding the Child Tax Credit. She pushed to broadly expand the nation’s social safety net, but because negotiations fell apart between Biden and moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, progressives settled for a smaller but still sweeping health care, tax and climate bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

Jayapal also led progressives to push the Biden administration on a number of executive actions as a way to curtail the narrow margins in Congress, including to address student loan debt relief, CNN noted.

“The CPC showed we could push for the maximum while also being able to land the plane, govern, and execute a deeply popular agenda,” Jayapal wrote.

With more than a dozen newly elected House members set to join the caucus, the progressive caucus is set to continue to be influential as Democrats navigate a narrow minority.

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