May 28, 2011

The Following article originated at and is taken from

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) was founded in 1991 by Bernie Sanders, a self-identified socialist who had recently been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Sanders' CPC co-founders included House members Ron Dellums, Lane Evans, Thomas Andrews, Peter DeFazio, and Maxine Waters. The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) was also involved in CPC's founding and in Caucus activities thereafter; IPS continues to advise CPC on various matters to this day.

Another key player in establishing CPC was the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which has maintained a close alliance with the Caucus ever since. In 1997, DSA's political director, Chris Riddiough, organized a meeting with CPC leaders to discuss how the two groups might be able to “unite our forces on a common agenda.” Among those who participated in the meeting were Bernie Sanders, labor leader Richard Trumka, professor Noam Chomsky, feminist Patricia Ireland, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Senator Paul Wellstone, journalist William Greider, and the socialist author Barbara Ehrenreich.

It is also interesting to note that with the exception of the lone Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus (Allen West), all but three (including Barack Obama) are or have been members of the CPC, indicating that the ideals of the CPC have been adopted by this minority block. Furthermore, every Hispanic-American in the Democratic Party currently serving in the House is also a member of this caucus.

Beginning in 1997, CPC worked closely with the newly launched “Progressive Challenge, a coalition of more than 100 leftist organizations that sought to unite their activities and objectives under a "multi-issue progressive agenda." To view a list of many of the major groups that co-sponsored the Progressive Challenge, click here.

On November 11, 1999, CPC drafted a vital Position Paper on economic inequality, which called for “legislative initiatives” to combat the “income and wealth disparities” that “distor[t] our democracy, destabiliz[e] the economy, and erod[e] our social and cultural fabric.” Lamenting that “two and a half decades of government policies and rules governing the economy” had been “tilted in favor of large asset owners at the expense of wage earners,” the document derided the “pro-investor bias” of America's existing “tax policy, trade policy, monetary policy, [and] government regulations.”

In 2005 CPC spelled out its political agendas in what would become its signature document, the “Progressive Promise.” Therein, the Caucus emphasizes its commitment to four major priorities: Economic Justice and Security; Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; Global Peace and Security; and Environmental Protection & Energy Independence. Under the rubric of these items fall a number of additional key CPC objectives, such as these:

● "To uphold the right to universal access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for all."
● "To … create new jobs in the U.S. by building more affordable housing, re-building America’s schools and physical infrastructure, cleaning up our environment, and improving homeland security."
● "To ensure [that] working families can live above the poverty line and with dignity by raising and indexing the minimum wage."
● "To sunset expiring provisions of the Patriot Act and bring remaining provisions into line with the U.S. Constitution."
● "To fight corporate consolidation of the media and ensure opportunity for all voices to be heard"—essentially a plan for purging conservative voices from the airwaves by means of the "Fairness Doctrine" or adherence to the principles of “localism.”
● "To bring U. S. troops home from Iraq as soon as possible."
● "To encourage debt relief for poor countries" as outlined in the United Nations Millennium Project, a massive redistributive scheme calling for the governments of wealthy countries to commit 0.7% of their GNP to promoting “the economic development and welfare of developing countries.”
● "To free ourselves and our economy from dependence upon imported oil and shift to growing reliance upon renewable energy supplies and technologies."
● To “eliminate [the] environmental threat posed by global warming,” an objective that may be accomplished by increased emphasis on “solar, biomass, and wind power.”
● "To promote environmental justice," a term founded on the premise that hazardous-waste landfills and pollution-emitting industries tend to be situated disproportionately near minority neighborhoods.

A 2002 report by Joelle Fishman, chair of the Communist Party USA's Political Action Committee, stated that the Progressive Caucus “provides an important lever that can be used to advance workers' issues and move the debate to the left in every Congressional District in the country.” In a 2010 CPUSA report, Party member David Bell identified Progressive Caucus members as his organization's “allies in Congress.”

As of April 2011, CPC consisted of seventy-five members of the House of Representatives—all of them leftist Democrats—and one U.S. Senator (Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats). Below is a list of all 76 CPC members in Congress - each one is a member of the Democratic Party:

Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin 2nd
Karen Bass, California 33rd
Xavier Becerra, California 31st
Earl Blumenauer, Oregon 3rd
Robert Brady, Pennsylvania 1st
Corrine Brown, Florida 3rd
Michael Capuano, Massachusetts 8th
Andre Carson, Indiana 7th
Donna Christensen, Virgin Islands At-Large
Judy Chu, California 32nd
David Cicilline, Rhode Island 1st
Yvette Clarke, New York 11th
William "Lacy" Clay, Missouri 1st
Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri 5th
Steve Cohen, Tennessee 9th
John Conyers, Michigan 14th
Elijah Cummings, Maryland 7th
Danny Davis, Illinois 7th
Peter DeFazio, Oregon 4th
Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut 3rd
Donna Edwards, Maryland 4th
Keith Ellison (co-chair), Minnesota 5th
Sam Farr, California 17th
Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania 2nd
Bob Filner, California 51st
Barney Frank, Massachusetts 4th
Marcia Fudge, Ohio 11th
Raúl Grijalva (co-chair), Arizona 7th
Luis Gutierrez, Illinois 4th
Maurice Hinchey, New York 22nd
Mazie Hirono, Hawaii 2nd
Michael Honda, California 15th
Jesse Jackson Jr., Illinois 2nd
Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas 18th
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas 30th
Hank Johnson (whip), Georgia 4th
Marcy Kaptur, Ohio 9th
Dennis Kucinich, Ohio 10th
Barbara Lee, California 9th
John Lewis, Georgia 5th
David Loebsack, Iowa 2nd
Ben Ray Lujan, New Mexico 3rd
Carolyn Maloney, New York 14th
Ed Markey, Massachusetts 7th
Jim McDermott, Washington 7th
James McGovern, Massachusetts 3rd
George Miller, California 7th
Gwen Moore, Wisconsin 4th
Jim Moran, Virginia 8th
Jerrold Nadler, New York 8th
Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia at-Large
John Oliver, Massachusetts 1st
Frank Pallone, New Jersey 6th
Ed Pastor, Arizona 4th
Donald Payne, New Jersey 10th
Chellie Pingree, Maine 1st
Jared Polis, Colorado 2nd
Charles Rangel, New York 15th
Laura Richardson, California 37th
Lucille Roybal-Allard, California 34th
Bobby Rush, Illinois 1st
Linda Sanchez, California 39th
Bernie Sanders (CPC's lone Senator),
Jan Schakowsky, Illinois 9th
Jose Serrano, New York 16th
Louise Slaughter, New York 28th
Pete Stark, California 13th
Bennie Thompson, Mississippi 2nd
John Tierney, Massachusetts 6th
Nydia Velazquez, New York 12th
Maxine Waters, California 35th
Mel Watt, North Carolina 12th
Henry Waxman, California 30th
Peter Welch, Vermont At-Large
Frederica Wilson, Florida 17th
Lynn Woolsey, California 6th

Here is a list of noteworthy former members who left the Caucus prior to April 2011:

Neil Abercrombie, David Bonior, Sherrod Brown, Roland Burris, Julia Carson, Diana DeGette, Lane Evans, Eni Faleomavaega, Earl Hilliard, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Eric Massa, Cynthia McKinney, Carrie Meek, Major Owens, Nancy Pelosi, Lynn Rivers, Gus Savage, Robert Scott, Hilda Solis, Linda Stender, Tom Udall, Diane Watson, Paul Wellstone, and Robert Wexler.


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