Just How Relentlessly Progressive is the Congressional Progressive Caucus of 2010?

In March of 2009, we reviewed the congressional activity of the-members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is a coalition of liberals in the House of Representatives, one that has been characterized by the right wing as relentless in their pursuit of Red Army extremism. We found that, despite conservatives’ characterization of the group, the Progressive Caucus had been neither extreme nor relentless in the promotion of legislation in the early 111th Congress. A year later, let’s take another look.

More Members
In the past year, the number of full members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (not counting honorary Senate member Bernie Sanders and two non-voting delegates) has grown to 79 members with the recent additions of Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Judy Chu, Alcee Hastings, James Moran, Frank Pallone and Jared Polis.

Next to No Movement on the Military Commissions Act
In 2007, only 30% of the Progressive Caucus had signed on in support of a bill to repeal the Military Commissions Act. Last March, only 11 voting House members of the CPC had added their support to H.R. 591, a bill introduced by non-CPC-member David Price to repeal the MCA. As of January 16, 2010, 12 out of the 79 voting House members of the CPC had cosponsored the bill, a number only one greater than nearly a year before, and that because bill cosponsor Earl Blumenauer joined the caucus, not because any caucus member decided to add their support to the bill. This is hardly evidence of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ wild, relentless radicalism.

Little Movement on the FISA Amendments Act
The FISA Amendments Act is a 2 year old law that permits warrantless surveillance, search and seizure against Americans, their property and their communications. On February 19, 2009 the Congressional Progressive Caucus featured a document by member Barbara Lee criticizing the FISA Amendments Act and declaring outright (page 36) that “In 2009, Congressmembers can repeal the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.”

On November 3, 2009, Rep. Rush Holt introduced H.R. 4005, a bill to reform the FISA Amendments Act by imposing short-term notification requirements for Americans spied on without warrants, by imposing limitations on “pen register” wiretapping without a warrant, and to allow recipients of warrantless orders to surrender information on Americans to challenge the validity of such an order in court. H.R. 4005 is the House version of the Justice Act, FISA reform legislation sponsored in the Senate by Russell Feingold. Rush Holt is a non-member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and not one member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has cosponsored Holt’s bill.

On October 20, 2009, Rep. John Conyers introduced H.R. 3846, a bill that also would reform the FISA Amendments Act by repealing telecommunications corporations’ immunity for violating the law and by prohibiting reverse targeting, a process under which associates of an American of interest are placed under surveillance so that information about that American can be gathered. Including Rep. Conyers himself, only six out of the seventy-nine members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have cosponsored this bill.

Reality on FISA reform continues to be mismatched with the reputation of a relentless CPC that just won’t stop in the promotion of the progressive agenda. The CPC has talked for four years now about this subject, but beyond talk it’s been almost completely inactive on the subject.

Alignment with a Progressive Slate: No Perfection and a Lot of Variation
Let’s shift focus in our evaluation from particular legislative issues to the broad progressive agenda. Without reference to what members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are doing, we at That’s My Congress have developed an index called the Progressive Action Score. It is a 0-100 score for each Representative that is equal to the % of our slate of progressive legislative actions — both votes and cosponsorships — that a member of the House of Representatives has engaged in. The higher the score, the more closely a Representative follows the path of progressivism in the Congress. A score of 100 would indicate a perfect match.

The following is a list of Progressive Action Scores as of January 16, 2010 for all representatives in the Congressional Progressive Caucus:

Rep. Judy Chu. Progressive Action Score: 29%
Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Progressive Action Score: 36%
Rep. Bennie Thompson. Progressive Action Score: 39%
Rep. Gwen Moore. Progressive Action Score: 39%
Rep. Eddie Johnson. Progressive Action Score: 39%
Rep. Alan Grayson. Progressive Action Score: 39%
Rep. Corrine Brown. Progressive Action Score: 39%
Rep. Laura Richardson. Progressive Action Score: 43%
Rep. Charles Rangel. Progressive Action Score: 43%
Rep. Ben Lujan. Progressive Action Score: 43%
Rep. David Loebsack. Progressive Action Score: 43%
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. Progressive Action Score: 43%
Rep. Xavier Becerra. Progressive Action Score: 43%
Rep. Nydia Velazquez. Progressive Action Score: 46%
Rep. Louise Slaughter. Progressive Action Score: 46%
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. Progressive Action Score: 46%
Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick. Progressive Action Score: 46%
Rep. John Hall. Progressive Action Score: 46%
Rep. Luis Gutierrez. Progressive Action Score: 46%
Rep. Robert Brady. Progressive Action Score: 46%
Rep. Melvin Watt. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Maxine Waters. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Bobby Rush. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Jared Polis. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Eric Massa. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Marcia Fudge. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Chaka Fattah. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Danny Davis. Progressive Action Score: 50%
Rep. Linda Sanchez. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Frank Pallone. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Edward Markey. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Alcee Hastings. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Phil Hare. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. John Conyers. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Lacy Clay. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Progressive Action Score: 54%
Rep. Peter Welch. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Henry Waxman. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. John Tierney. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Jose Serrano. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Chellie Pingree. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Ed Pastor. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. John Lewis. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Hank Johnson. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Jesse Jackson. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Andre Carson. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Michael Capuano. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Tammy Baldwin. Progressive Action Score: 57%
Rep. Robert Wexler. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Diane Watson. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Pete Stark. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Donald Payne. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Jerrold Nadler. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Barney Frank. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Donna Edwards. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Peter DeFazio. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Elijah Cummings. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. Steve Cohen. Progressive Action Score: 61%
Rep. John Olver. Progressive Action Score: 64%
Rep. George Miller. Progressive Action Score: 64%
Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Progressive Action Score: 64%
Rep. Yvette Clarke. Progressive Action Score: 64%
Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Progressive Action Score: 68%
Rep. James Moran. Progressive Action Score: 68%
Rep. Jim McDermott. Progressive Action Score: 68%
Rep. Michael Honda. Progressive Action Score: 68%
Rep. Mazie Hirono. Progressive Action Score: 68%
Rep. Keith Ellison. Progressive Action Score: 68%
Rep. Barbara Lee. Progressive Action Score: 71%
Rep. Sam Farr. Progressive Action Score: 71%
Rep. James McGovern. Progressive Action Score: 75%
Rep. Raul Grijalva. Progressive Action Score: 75%
Rep. Janice Schakowsky. Progressive Action Score: 79%
Rep. Bob Filner. Progressive Action Score: 79%
Rep. Maurice Hinchey. Progressive Action Score: 82%

Although Rep. Maurice Hinchey comes close, no member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has a perfect record of progressivism, and there is a wide variation in the degree of support for the progressive slate, going as far down the scale as Marcy Kaptur’s 36% (let’s give Judy Chu’s lower score a pass, since she has only been in the Congress since summer and has missed some opportunities that could raise her score).

If you find your member of Congress’ name on this list and see that she or he does not support a progressive slate of policies as strongly as you might hope, don’t just mope about it. Click on that member’s name to review his or her legislative record, review the slate of legislation we reference, then make a phone call with informed questions.

More generally, if you find yourself inclined to refer to the Progressive Caucus as a lock-step, coordinated, motivated force for progressive change (or demonic possession) in the Congress, please think again.

2 Comments

on “Just How Relentlessly Progressive is the Congressional Progressive Caucus of 2010?
2 Comments on “Just How Relentlessly Progressive is the Congressional Progressive Caucus of 2010?
  1. Pingback: UnPATRIOTic: Why Our Government Won’t Protect Our Rights – and What We Can Do About It by Shahid Buttar

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