Congresswomen-Elect Pioneer Change and Disrupt "Business as Usual" at Harvard Orientation
Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics Bipartisan Orientation Program has hosted more than 700 members of Congress since 1972. But this time, newly elected members were not down for business as usual. The orientation is pitched as a way for incoming lawmakers to learn about life on Capitol Hill, but some new Dems like NY Democratic Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized the gathering for including four corporate CEOs but no labor leaders or activists to talk to the new members. “Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Where‘s labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?” On Tuesday, several freshman Democrats joined MA Democratic Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley for a healthcare rally instead of attending a talk by Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “I was not sent to Washington to play nice,” Pressley told single-payer healthcare activists at the rally. And MI Democratic Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib had a tense exchange with GM CEO Mary Barra who suggested that laid-off GM workers who live in the Detroit area could still seek employment at a plant in Flint, MI more than an hour’s drive away. “I was very much trying to actively listen and understand why the decision was made, but I pushed back when the discussion was, ‘Well, they’re going to have options to work in Flint,’” Tlaib said in an interview. “I pushed back and said, ‘You make it sound like it’s so easy,’ and she said, ‘It’s better than not having no job at all.’” Considering the newly elected members’ pushback, it was as much an orientation for the private sector as it was for the new lawmakers. The 116th Congress will almost certainly operate differently. More here.