The group of new members, which includes Maxwell Frost has a text thread in which they discuss everything from news articles and policy ideas to memes and puppies. | Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Even as House Democrats shrink into the minority, the voices of progressive lawmakers — inspired by the so-called squad — are set to grow only louder.
An optimistic crop of liberal first-year lawmakers is confident they can pry back the majority from Republicans in two years. In the meantime, add another five members, aligned with the liberal Working Families Party, to the ever-expanding list of those vowing to push President Joe Biden’s administration to the left on priorities like workers’ rights, climate change and immigration.
And they’re already tuned in to a cliché critical to commanding Congress: There’s power in numbers. While several soon-to-be members had already come together on the campaign trail and grew closer as they descended on Washington, they’ve also forged alliances with other incoming lawmakers they met for the first time at orientation.
“I think that as legislators, our job is to agenda-set. It’s to govern, it’s to create policy, but it’s also to put forth that best case, and bring people over to us,” said Rep.-elect Summer Lee (D-Pa.), one of two Justice Democrat-backed candidates to win a general election. “That’s what progressives have to do, whether we’re in the majority or the minority. … That’s going to be where a lot of power is: in expanding the realm of what’s possible.”
They’re all set to join a Democratic Caucus that’s becoming younger, more diverse and more liberal. It’s potentially more hospitable terrain than what the “squad” faced four years ago, when the original group of four progressive lawmakers became a favored target for Republicans — and even some moderate Democrats. While Lee is the only one to openly say she hopes to join the squad, other new lawmakers are looking to the group of six as an example of the power they can wield, despite being relatively junior legislators with little concrete congressional influence.