The Rise of the Pragmatic Democrat
Blue Dogs and New Democrats Continue to Grow their Ranks

January 30, 2019 by TWN Staff
New elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during the 116th Congress on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 3, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Much attention has been paid in the months since the midterm elections to several high profile members of the House Democratic Caucus, many of whom represent the far left of the party. In taking a cursory look at the Democrats elected to the House in November, one might assume the balance of power does in fact lie with the liberal wing. However, as Democrats settle in to the 116th Congress, it is becoming clear that the more pragmatic, centrist members of the Caucus will have a significant impact on the agenda in Washington.

In fact, in a recent poll by Progressive Policy Institute it was found that “’radical pragmatism’ might be the better bet for delivering the results that Americans crave in a way that rings true to their values.” They also “found an electorate hungering for progress on crucial issues but far more pragmatic about what the solutions should be than either the extreme left or right is currently calling for.”

The growing number of Democrats in the House who are taking a more pragmatic approach to legislating is reflected in the growing numbers of Blue Dogs and New Democrats. The Blue Dogs added three new members on Tuesday – Representatives Ed Case (HI-01), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), and Kendra Horn (OK-05) – bringing their ranks to 27. The Coalition recently flexed its policy muscles by insisting that Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) rules be included in the House Rules Package, a move that was not popular with some members on the far left.

“We’re proud to welcome Reps. Case, Cunningham, and Horn to the Blue Dog Coalition,” said Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications, of the additions. “These Members have come to Congress with the purpose to serve their districts first and work across the aisle to get things done for their constituents. Their records and their policy priorities make these members a natural fit for the Coalition. They care deeply about getting our nation’s fiscal house in order, strengthening our national defense, and creating a path to prosperity for the middle class. We look forward to their contributions to the Coalition as we look to improve the lives of all Americans.”

The New Democrat Coalition has also recently added nine new members, bringing the group’s membership to 101, making it the largest ideological caucus within the House Democratic Caucus. 31 out of the 40 freshman Members representing red-to-blue seats Democrats flipped in November are members of the coalition.

New Democrat Coalition members incluce Cindy Axne (IA-03), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Kendra Horn (OK-05), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Lori Trahan (MA-03) and David Trone (MD-06).

“Now at more than 100-strong, the New Democrat Coalition will continue to push Congress to look at old problems through a new lens. We are laser-focused on our common denominator: we are here to get something done. New Democrats are eager to grow the pie, create jobs in every part of the country, and build an economy where businesses innovate. Together we can work to create more economic opportunities for more people in more places,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, New Democrat Coalition Chair.

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