Ilhan Omar’s Influence Already Expanding in Congress

Ilhan Omar will be sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives at a time when liberal-leaning newcomers like her are pushing for more influence in shaping the party’s agenda.

Since the midterm elections, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has negotiated with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for its members — particularly freshmen — to have more committee chairmanships and spots on powerful panels usually reserved for more seasoned members, such as Ways and Means.

This wave of enthusiasm is creating a big opening for incoming freshmen like Omar, who are usually relegated to less influential committee assignments. It’s also altering the dynamics of Congress, where the roughly 95 members of the new progressive caucus will have the largest voting bloc among House Democrats.

Omar was recently elected to a leadership role in the caucus, a position that will give her more influence, but that is nearly certain to draw more criticism.

“Top Democratic leaders have proactively sought conversations with Ilhan Omar and some other progressive stars to make sure that their views are firmly at the table,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which endorsed Omar. She attended the group’s legislative training in 2015. “I think it’s an acknowledgment that they have such a large voice and bully pulpit right now, and the ability to drive the national debate.”

Omar told the Star Tribune that her early priorities will include an infrastructure package — funding roads, bridges and broadband internet — and a measure that would institute publicly funded political campaigns and automatic voter registration. She’s also advocating for a proposed constitutional amendment to undo the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that allows corporations and labor unions the right to spend unlimited money in political campaigns.

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SOURCE: Maya Rao
Star Tribune