In 2018, four freshman first-time Congress members became one of the most vocal groups of progressives lawmakers. They now have two new Congress members.
Capitol Hill’s group of most vocal progressives just got a little bigger. On Jan. 3, new Democrat representatives took the oath of office and convened for their first session of the 117th Congress.
In 2018, four freshman first-time Congress members became one of the most vocal groups of progressives lawmakers. They were known as the Squad. It consisted of Democrat representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachuttes, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
This year, their recruits include two new first-time Democrat representatives: Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri.
“Our squad is the unseen and the unheard and the ignored and the marginalized and the neglected,” Rep. Bowman said about joining the Squad. “We fight for them, and as much as we can, we fight and speak on their behalf.”
On Aug. 4, Rep. Bush—a registered nurse, pastor, and activist— beat 10-term incumbent Lacy Clay. Her political involvement began after the 2014 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of police. In 2018, Rep. Bush ran against Clay but lost. She was victorious a year later.
“I’ve survived sexual assault, police abuse, domestic violence, and being unhoused and uninsured,” Rep. Bush tweeted. “That’s not a unique pain I carry. It’s one that so many of us live with each day. Today, I take my seat in Congress to fight for a world where nobody has to endure that pain.”
Rep. Bowman is the former founder and former principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a public middle school in Eastchester, Bronx. Rep. Bowman was recruited to run for Congress by Justice Democrats.
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“We need a Democratic Party that fights for its voters, not corporate donors, and a new generation of leaders who will fight for our communities and a bold agenda,” the Justice Democrats stated on its website. “In 2018, we helped elect AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. In 2020, we elected Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush and Marie Newman. The Squad is here to stay—and it’s growing.”
Nancy Pelosi was also narrowly reelected as speaker, giving her the reins of Democrats’ slender House majority as President-elect Joe Biden sets upon a challenging course of producing legislation to tackle the pandemic, revive the economy, and address other party priorities.
To secure her victory, Pelosi had to overcome some Democratic grumbling about her longevity, a slim 222-211 edge over Republicans after the November election, and a handful of absences due to the coronavirus.
There are two vacancies in the 435-member House, and whatever happens, Democrats will have the smallest House majority in two decades.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.