Progressive Caucus eyes shakeup to boost power next Congress

The biggest revision being considered would move the CPC from two chairs to one. This would be seen as boosting Jayapal’s profile within the House, said several Democratic lawmakers and aides who speculated it could be a launching pad for future leadership ambitions. Jayapal laughed off the claim, saying she’s running to be the chair of the CPC and nothing more.

Other potential changes include new policies for attendance and voting requirements that could result in some lawmakers being put on probation by the group if they don’t meet certain thresholds, including on caucus unity. CPC leaders say those reforms — including having a single chair — would put them in line with virtually every other Democratic caucus within the House.

Lawmakers who are unhappy with the proposed changes declined to go on the record for fear of a backlash. But some of the internal friction over the rules changes have boiled over in recent days. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a leader of the task force in charge of the reforms package, resigned as chairman over the weekend, though he remains part of the panel.

“I am still a member of the task force, but I did resign as the chairman of the task force on reform,” Raskin confirmed in an interview Monday. “The co-chairs of the CPC — Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal — have really taken the lead on the bylaw reforms, and they are much better spokespeople for the proposed changes.”

Raskin was expected to run for the co-chair position being vacated by Pocan but is not going to challenge Jayapal for the sole chairmanship if the reforms package is enacted, according to multiple CPC members. The Maryland Democrat said while “many” of his ideas have been incorporated into the proposal, he “had a different perspective” about part of it, but he declined to be specific.

Among the proposed changes is an attendance mandate, which would require members to be present for at least 50 percent of meetings, with exceptions for congressional duties like committee hearings and family emergencies.

Another new policy would allow any member to seek a formal CPC position on a bill, putting the caucus on the record for or against any legislation as long as two-thirds of the members agree.

That’s a major departure from the current policy, under which Jayapal and Pocan would simply decide whether the caucus should take a formal stance on a bill. Members will also be expected to vote with the CPC two-thirds of the time on the House floor whenever the group takes an official position or risk probation.

“It’s not us deciding what we’re whipping on. It’s the members deciding. So we’ve taken away the ability for one or two people to have the solitary say of the entire caucus,” Pocan said in an interview Monday.

Pocan, who said he “self term-limited” after two terms leading the caucus, also backed Jayapal in the decision to consolidate leadership into a single post, rather than two co-chairs. Asked about some members’ concerns that it centralized too much power in one person, Pocan argued: “It actually does the opposite of that. … The heart of this is really around empowering members to be more…

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