Democratic Congresswoman from Seattle Pramila Jayapal was just elected to the House of Representatives for the third time in a row—and, depending on how vote counting shakes out, Jayapal may also have won more votes than any other member of Congress.... for the second time in a row. She’s also currently the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In an interview with The Stranger on Monday, Congresswoman Jayapal talked about intra-party conflict within the Democratic Party, the factors that contributed to the Biden/Harris victory, and what comes next.
On reckoning with the results of the election and compromise:
“Remember when we passed the $15 minimum wage, and everyone called us radical and far left for doing that? Well, Florida just passed a $15 minimum wage with a supermajority of votes, and Florida just voted for Donald Trump. Many things called ‘far left’ or ‘radical policies’ are just about honoring the people, and making it so people have the opportunity to work 40 hours a week and still take care of their families, and have health care, and have good union jobs.”
On adopting the language of movements for progressive policy:
“Few members of Congress ran on ‘defund the police’ as a slogan—if any, I’m still looking for any evidence of someone who did. But we know the Republicans will take all kinds of slogans and use them against us. We know socialism was used against Teddy Roosevelt and every president after him. The question is what is our response. What are our values? What are we fighting for?”
On how moderate Democrats can respond to Republican attacks:
“We need to invest in year-round organizing. That’s one of the things I’m really proud of. I don’t know how many Members of Congress run a year-round organizing campaign from the day after the election. Most members keep a fundraiser on staff, but they don’t keep an organizer on staff.”
On what role Congress can play around defunding the police:
“We also have to shut off the school-to-prison pipeline. I was just talking to the new president of the National Education Association, Becky Pringle, the first Black woman to lead a major union in the country. She was talking about how we’re putting kids into a system that we know is going to discriminate against them from the very beginning. We’re saying, ‘Go into the systemically racist system,’ and then we’re saying, ‘Oh, how did you end up in jail?’ And so we’ve got to fundamentally shift that system and how public education is delivered and who delivers it.”
Read the full interview here.