IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

House progressives release an agenda for 2025, with ideas for Biden to excite the base

The agenda is heavy on economics and lighter on cultural issues, carrying echoes of FDR's New Deal. It omits some issues that lack Democratic consensus, like "Medicare for All."
Pramila Jayapal and Joe Biden
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, chaired by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., has advice for President Joe Biden.Getty Images; AP

WASHINGTON — Top House progressives will unveil a sweeping agenda Thursday to lay down a marker for the policies they’ll push next year if Democrats win the 2024 election, from a higher minimum wage and strengthening antitrust laws to new federal benefits for seniors on Social Security and parents raising kids.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus agenda, first shared with NBC News, doubles as a blueprint of political advice for how it believes President Joe Biden can win over progressives and young voters who are uninspired by his re-election bid ahead of a rematch with former President Donald Trump.

“If the progressive base is not excited and enthusiastic — and if they don’t feel like we are trying to earn their votes and that they are important — then I think the horrific idea of a second Donald Trump presidency could become reality,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the progressive caucus chair, said in an interview. “We cannot afford to let that happen. And we won’t.”

The seven-point agenda is heavily focused on economics and lighter on cultural issues, carrying echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It begins with provisions to boost the federal minimum wage to $17 per hour by 2028 and pass the PRO Act to strengthen unions, as well as other provisions, such as guaranteeing overtime pay. It includes policies to reduce the cost of living — by capping child care costs at 7% of income for all families; expanding Social Security benefits by closing tax loopholes; adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare; and enacting a series of policies to protect renters and make housing more affordable.

“It’s really about worker power and raising wages and lowering costs for poor people, middle-class Americans and the working people across this country,” Jayapal said.

The five other planks are investments in education, including universal pre-K and kindergarten; aggressive clean energy standards to tackle climate change; “making our democracy work” with federal voting rights mandates, Washington, D.C., statehood and elimination of the Senate filibuster; taking on corporations and monopolies; and “advancing justice” though abortion rights, pro-LGBTQ measures, pro-immigrant policies and setting national policing standards.

The agenda is also notable for what’s not included. “Medicare for All,” a rallying cry of the left for years, is excluded. Foreign policy issues like Israel and Gaza, which have sparked fiery pro-Palestinian protests across the country, are also kept out. Jayapal said that’s partly because the caucus decided to make it a domestic-issue-only blueprint and partly out of pragmatism — to focus more on unifying issues for Democrats and steer clear of the ones that divide them.

“The way we came to this agenda is to say that we were going to put into this agenda things that were populist and possible ... and affected a huge number of people,” she said. “We haven’t taken a position on particularly Israel and Gaza in the progressive caucus, and so that’s not on here.”

A supermajority of the 103 lawmakers in the caucus weighed in on the agenda, and 98% supported it, a spokesperson said.

Much of the agenda will have no realistic chance of passage unless Democrats sweep control of the White House, the House and the Senate this fall. And Jayapal emphasized that, in addition, Democrats would need 50 senators ready to pierce the 60-vote filibuster rule to get around likely GOP opposition. That would be a herculean task, as Democrats face a daunting map in 2024 Senate races, defending a slew of seats in purple and red states.

“We are assuming that this is an agenda for a Democratic president with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House,” Jayapal said.

Progressives have had a rough two years, having been marginalized after Republicans took control of the House and steered the agenda rightward. Biden has broken with the left on issues like tougher asylum laws and crime. Some prominent Democrats, like Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, have eschewed the “progressive” label as conservatives have found success in associating it with the left’s most divisive ideas. Gallego, who is running for the Senate in his purple state, quietly left the progressive caucus. The caucus recently missed an opportunity to elect one of its members to a rare open Senate seat in deep-blue California, with two of them running and losing.

Still, Jayapal said she believes that if Democrats win the 2024 elections, the progressive caucus will be well-positioned to advance the ideas in its new agenda, as it did with it opening bid that shaped two of Biden’s signature laws, the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act. She has sought to institute changes to make the caucus more cohesive. It recently raised its dues for members.

Some of the provisions in the new agenda represent items in Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda that were left on the cutting room floor because of the thin majorities. Others could spark intraparty disagreements, including a far-reaching liberalization of the immigration system with a path to citizenship for people in the U.S. illegally. Yet other pieces resemble popular causes that progressives want Biden to get behind, like expanding Social Security and legalizing marijuana.

“We have to excite our base. We have to show them what the path forward is — not just say, ‘This is the most important election of your life, and we expect you to vote.’ I don’t think that’s going to turn people out. And so I think this agenda, really, speaks to the needs of poor people, working people, progressives across the country who want us to make that case to them,” Jayapal said. “We are not seeing the momentum that we would like to see. We’re going to have a tough election. ... We know we’re going to have to put together that progressive coalition. And I think this is the thing that allows us to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re fighting for.’”