A new member of the liberal “Squad” stepped to the forefront this week, leading a Capitol steps sit-in that forced the White House to act.
Cori Bush arrived in Congress as an heir to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now the political neophyte is coming into her own.
Bush has led a one-woman protest on the Capitol steps over the last several days that forced the eviction crisis to the top of the nation’s agenda even after the House left town without taking action on the issue. Under intense pressure from the left, President Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon announced a short-term fix to prevent millions of families from losing their homes despite questioning the constitutionality of doing so.
The Missouri Democrat’s surprising win after an impromptu vigil on the East Front — which has been broadcast on national television and drawn high-profile figures such as Jesse Jackson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — illustrates the burgeoning influence held by the freshman progressive and other members of the so-called Squad both inside and outside the Capitol. Once dismissed as liberal firebrands with large Twitter followings but little impact inside Congress, the Squad has added members and continued knocking off high-profile incumbents, forcing senior Democrats to listen.
“This is why this happened. Being unapologetic. Being unafraid to stand up,” Bush told reporters as Biden made his announcement Tuesday after she’d spent several days sleeping, mostly sitting up, on the building’s steps.
“You did this,” a jubilant Schumer told Bush and her group of allied Democrats after jogging across the Capitol plaza as the news broke. He bear-hugged Bush and Ocasio-Cortez, who hasn’t ruled out a primary challenge to him next year, declaring: “You guys are fabulous.”
As Bush continued her protest through Tuesday, she got a boost from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was pushing Biden privately. Pelosi spent the weekend phone banking with the White House, including chatting with Biden, pressing the administration to extend the moratorium. Notably, Bush’s strategy shifted over the weekend to align with Pelosi, going from calling for a House vote that was doomed to fail to pushing for the White House to act.
Bush, 45, is the latest member of the group to capture national headlines and has arguably delivered the most impactful result since the Squad first formed in 2018. After the Capitol sit-in by Bush, who has experienced homelessness after eviction, millions of Americans will see at least a temporary reprieve from the same threat.
“I can’t tell you just how important it is, and how much of a change can be brought, by having people who have personal experiences [with] the policy that they are trying to implement,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) a founding member of the group.
Their fight almost certainly isn’t over: Biden’s evictions fix is expected to draw a court challenge that could put the onus back on Congress to cobble together a response. Still, Bush’s allies say the intense pressure from her and other Democrats this week compelled the White House into a step it had been highly reluctant to take just hours earlier.
But beyond the power of grassroots activism, the Missouri Democrat’s move also shows that she’s building bonds with influential Democrats after coming to Congress as an outsider who knocked off a beloved member of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus.
SOURCE ⇒ POLITICO
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