Biden-Sanders unity task forces feature plenty of members of Congress

Each working group will have a House member as co-chair

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., will co-chair the climate policy task force. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., will co-chair the climate policy task force. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted May 13, 2020 at 10:36am

House Democrats will be well represented on campaign videoconferences to try to find unified policy positions for former Vice President Joe Biden heading into the Democratic National Convention.

Nine House members are among the dozens of Democrats tapped by Biden and his former presidential primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and each of the six policy working groups will have one House member as a co-chair.

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a vocal Sanders supporter during the primary season, will be the co-chair from the Vermont senator’s side of the task force that will cover climate change policy.

Other Capitol Hill-based co-chairs are Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington on health care, Rep. Karen Bass of California on the economy, Rep. Robert C. Scott of Virginia on criminal justice, Ohio Rep. Marcia L. Fudge on education and California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard on immigration.

Jayapal, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, campaigned on behalf of Sanders.

Bass, the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, formally backed Biden in March as the Democratic Party was coalescing behind the former vice president's campaign. Scott endorsed Biden after his victory in the South Carolina primary. Roybal-Allard was also supporting Biden during the primary season.

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Fudge initially supported California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris for president but eventually joined in supporting Biden after the Harris campaign ended.

“From health care to reforming our justice system to rebuilding a more inclusive and fair economy, the work of the task forces will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress and not simply turn the clock back to a time before Donald Trump, but transform our country,” Biden said in a statement announcing the task force members.

Reps. Kathy Castor of Florida and Donald McEachin of Virginia will also take part in the development of climate policy plans, with another familiar face on Capitol Hill serving as co-chair alongside Ocasio-Cortez: former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois will be on the health care task force, while Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas has been tapped for the immigration policy group.

The working groups were initially announced when Sanders appeared on a Biden campaign live stream to offer his endorsement of the former vice president, in one of the clearest signs yet of the extent to which Biden and his team are attempting to build the biggest possible tent ahead of the general election against President Donald Trump.

“In the midst of the unprecedented economic and pandemic crises we face, the Democratic Party must think big, act boldly, and fight to change the direction of this country,” Sanders said in a statement. “I commend Joe Biden for working together with my campaign to assemble a group of leading thinkers and activists who can and will unify our party in a transformational and progressive direction.”