Progressive House Caucus Pressures Biden to Issue Executive Orders Ahead of Midterms

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Amid growing recognition on Capitol Hill that little time remains to deliver on key promises before the midterm elections, the House Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) sent a list of proposed executive orders to the White House on Wednesday.

After realizing late last year that many of their policy ideas were unlikely to pass both congressional chambers, liberal House Democrats began researching how President Joe Biden could achieve similar changes through executive orders, The Washington Post reports.

The caucus, which represents 98 liberal House members, made their executive order recommendations public on Thursday, giving Biden direction on how to bring healthcare costs down, boost wages for certain workers, combat climate change and develop green energy technologies, expand illegal immigrant rights, revamp policing, invest in care workers and make tax changes. They also plan to ask him to cancel all federal student loan debt.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the caucus, told the Post that lawmakers considered which policies would energize their voter base enough “to fight for” them in the coming months, because, if the policies were “super wonky and detailed, it was probably going to be hard to explain.”

Their plan is to push Biden to issue these orders — something he has previously indicated he does not want to do — before the midterm elections in November.

The CPC began to discuss the need for executive action in December following an announcement from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that he could not support Biden’s social and climate spending plan “Build Back Better.”

Staff took policies that probably wouldn’t make it through the redrafting process and focused on those that either had precedent for what a president could sign through executive order or retooled by using existing legislation, according to the Post.

“I do think we want to make sure that we’re delivering as much as we can before November, in addition to all the excellent things we’ve already done, and making sure people know what we’ve done,” Jayapal reportedly said.

Though he has signed executive orders throughout his first year as president, primarily reversing many Trump orders, Biden has previously expressed caution about executive overreach.

“Some of my Republican friends and some of my Democratic friends even occasionally say, ‘Well, if you can’t get the votes, by executive order you’re going to do something,’ ” Biden said during an ABC News town hall in October 2020. “Things you can’t do by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We’re a democracy. We need consensus.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the caucus, told the Post that lawmakers considered which policies would energize their voter base enough “to fight for” them in the coming months, because, if the policies were “super wonky and detailed, it was probably going to be hard to explain.”

Their plan is to push Biden to issue these orders — something he has previously indicated he does not want to do — before the midterm elections in November.

The CPC began to discuss the need for executive action in December following an announcement from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that he could not support Biden’s social and climate spending plan “Build Back Better.”

Staff took policies that probably wouldn’t make it through the redrafting process and focused on those that either had precedent for what a president could sign through executive order or retooled by using existing legislation, according to the Post.

“I do think we want to make sure that we’re delivering as much as we can before November, in addition to all the excellent things we’ve already done, and making sure people know what we’ve done,” Jayapal reportedly said.

Though he has signed executive orders throughout his first year as president, primarily reversing many Trump orders, Biden has previously expressed caution about executive overreach.

“Some of my Republican friends and some of my Democratic friends even occasionally say, ‘Well, if you can’t get the votes, by executive order you’re going to do something,’ ” Biden said during an ABC News town hall in October 2020. “Things you can’t do by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We’re a democracy. We need consensus.”

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