House Progressives Choose Grijalva, Woolsey
posted by JOHN NICHOLS on 11/19/2008 @ 10:10pm
Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva, the son of a migrant laborer from Mexico who has in recent years been one of the U.S. House's most ardent defenders of the rights of immigrants and workers, will serve as the new co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Grijalva, a border-state congressman who has boldly challenged the anti-immigrant and anti-labor excesses of congressional Republicans since his election to the House in 2002, promised "to move (the CPC) to the next level and continue to advance our progressive agenda in an effective and pragmatic manner."
The Arizona representative will serve with California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, a returning co-chair, as the head of a caucus that currently numbers 73 members but could grow to more than 80 with the intake of two dozen new House Democrats when the next Congress is seated in January.
Woolsey's CPC co-chair in the current Congress, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee is stepping down from her CPC position to take over as the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Grijalva and Woolsey were elected to the co-chair positions at a caucus where Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison also competed for the leadership position. (The vote was reportedly Woolsey 30, Grijalva 26, Ellison 23, with the top two finishers taking the co-chair slots.)
Other leaders of the CPC in the 111 Congress will be:
• Whip Diane Watson, D-California
• Vice-Chair Liaison to Black Caucus Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas
• Vice-Chair Liaison to Women's Caucus Hilda L. Solis, D-California
• Vice-Chair Liaison to Asian Pacific American Caucus Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii
• Vice-Chair Liaison to LGBT Equality Caucus, Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio
Woolsey, a stalwart critic of the war in Iraq, declared after Wednesday's caucus meeting that, "From rebuilding our economy and expanding access to health care, to finally bringing our troops home from Iraq, our nation is at a unique time in it's history. Perhaps not since the Great Depression has there been a moment when the decisions and actions taken by those in Washington will have such a profound and lasting impact on generations to come. Today, we ensured that progressives continue to have a seat at the table, and a hand in crafting the legislation to come."