The Congressional Progressive Caucus has urged Joe Biden to reinforce federal oversight of large corporations, increase wages for working people and address the climate crisis.
Outlining its 2023 executive action agenda on Thursday, the CPC offered Joe Biden an opportunity to deliver on a range of Democratic policy priorities, and stifle recent criticism from the left wing of his party, using the power of the executive pen.
“The list that we have arrived at is not just a messaging exercise,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the caucus, told reporters. “These are actions that we believe the White House and federal agencies have the authority and the ability to take now and should do so.”
Biden’s executive power has taken on new significance now that Republicans control the House of Representatives, hindering Democrats’ ability to advance their legislative agenda. Without his party’s full control of Congress, Biden’s best hope of enacting reform in the next two years probably lies in executive orders, and those actions could help Democrats draw a contrast with Republicans in the 2024 elections.
“Republicans have made it perfectly clear they do not want to govern,” said Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, deputy CPC chair. “Thankfully, we have a Democratic president in the White House, one who has passed the boldest agenda in a generation to help working people. In the face of Republican obstruction, we do not have to be silent.”
The CPC’s announcement comes as Biden has found himself increasingly at odds with progressive activists over some of his recent policy decisions. Biden’s decision to approve the Willow oil project in Alaska has enraged climate activists, and immigrant rights advocates remain frustrated and alarmed about the White House’s efforts to restrict asylum applications. On Monday, Jayapal signed on to a comment expressing “deep concern” over the proposed asylum policy.
Asked about the recent clashes, Jayapal praised Biden as a “real champion on many issues”, celebrating the passage of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. But she acknowledged that “there are issues we don’t see exactly eye to eye on”.
“And on those issues, we’ve continued to push hard – sometimes in private, sometimes in public – to make sure that we are not only fulfilling his campaign promises, but most importantly delivering for people and what they need,” Jayapal said.
Among other proposals, the CPC is calling on Biden to address the rising cost of living by expanding the pool of workers eligible to receive overtime pay and lowering prescription drug prices. In regards to the climate crisis, the CPC wants the president to implement new federal rules on fossil fuel-fired power plants and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
Some of the CPC’s other proposed actions read as a direct response to recent news events, such as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. The caucus has urged Biden to expand federal oversight of financial institutions by subjecting large banks to the Federal Reserve’s supervision. The CPC has also called for “aggressive action to improve worker and community safety in the rail industry”, amid ongoing concerns about the recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
Biden has shown a willingness in the past to act on the CPC’s suggestions. Last August, months after the CPC released its 2022 executive action agenda calling on Biden to cancel student debt, the president announced his administration would provide up to $20,000 in student debt forgiveness, though his plan is now tangled up in lawsuits.
Despite significant legal hurdles, the CPC and its supporters hope that Biden will not only act on their proposed executive orders but that those policies will actually have the chance to be implemented.