House Progressives: The Caucus of No?
House progressive leader Raul Grijalva vows his caucus will be an "obstacle" to the GOP's agenda.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) may have barely survived the 2010 elections, appearing to have squeaked by his Republican opponent, Ruth McClung, in a race so tight that votes were still being counted on Wednesday. Just two years ago, Grijalva crushed his opponent by 30 points. This election season, though, he became a lightning rod due to his outspoken opposition to Arizona's harsh immigration law, receiving death threats, an envelope of suspicious white powder, and a bullet through the window of his district office.
Victorious Republicans insist the results of Tuesday's election give them a mandate to shove Washington to the right. But rather than make such concessions, Grijalva, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, believes the House Democrats left standing after this year's epic wipeout must defend liberal ideals more fiercely than ever. In an interview on Wednesday, Grijalva vowed that House progressives would block any proposal that compromised their values—and he criticized President Obama for taking an accomodating approach to Republican lawmakers bent on obstructing his agenda.
"I think the President is going to try to accommodate [House minority leader John] Boehner…but we can't have this caution, this slow-walking," Grijalva said. Instead, he continued, Obama "has to be an activist president"—one who "has to say no" to the Republican agenda. By contrast, the president struck a conciliatory tone with Republicans during his first press conference after the elections, describing the Democratic defeats as a "shellacking" that meant Americans weren't satisified with the progress they made. He viewed to work with the GOP on energy and health care, and promising "to hear good ideas wherever they come from."
Grijalva warned that members of his caucus would try to block any compromises with the Republicans that weren't sufficiently progressive, even if it meant defying the White House. "Progressives in Congress need to behave like Democrats if the White House doesn't want to behave…we can't suddenly go from being survivors to concede to an agenda that's not going to satisfy us. They shouldn't pass [compromises] with our votes," Grijalva said.