Progressives, activists plan to hound Biden on staffing

Progressives and activists are ratcheting up their pressure campaigns against President-elect Biden as the incoming commander-in-chief builds out his administration.

Immigrant advocacy groups, while happy that President Trump was defeated, do not plan to give his successor an easy time.

“Hell yeah, I’m optimistic. I don’t know what the hell we were going to do if Trump won again. But then the other side of me is like, ‘I know how this works,’” Marisa Franco, executive director of grassroots advocacy group Mijente told Politico.

“Nothing is going to be enough that [Biden] does and that’s the same issue that folks in the crime-and-justice movement have and folks in policing [reform] have. I think it’s very possible for things to get lost and that’s what our job is: To make sure it doesn’t,” she added.

Biden is also facing ramped-up pressure from lawmakers within his own party, with “Squad” members like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) signing on to a petition against him nominating former chief of staff Bruce Reed to run the Office of Management and Budget.

The petition was launched by Justice Democrats, a group dedicated to electing progressives, which referred to Reed as a “deficit hawk” and slammed his past work on the 1994 crime bill and the Bowles-Simpson Commission, which urged massive deficit reductions.

“We are extremely concerned by the reports that Reed is a frontrunner to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Biden administration, given his history of antipathy towards economic security programs that working people rely on. We demand that OMB be staffed with people who will prioritize working people, not Wall Street deficit scaremongers,” the petition language reads.

It also warns that, “Biden must not repeat Obama’s mistake” by working with Reed.

Following Biden’s first rollout of cabinet and administration picks, which included no progressives, some in that wing of the party privately told Axios that they felt concerned about a couple of the names being floated.

Specifically, some argued that the order of Biden’s announcements was important in terms of messaging, and the lack of a progressive presence thus far had created worry.

With two months to go before taking office, the incoming commander-in-chief has set a high bar on the issue of immigration, as activists are expecting him to present and pass an adequate reform package early in his presidency.

Speaking to Politico, multiple Hispanic Caucus members said that a large number of Democrats would be “severely disappointed” if immigration reform was not addressed early.

“That’s not going to sit well with a lot of folks,” one lawmaker in the caucus told the outlet.

While Biden’s ability to push through legislation will come down to who wins the two Georgia Senate run-off races come January, he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have publicly pledged that immigration would be addressed first.

After the Supreme Court blocked the White House from ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in June, Biden committed to sending a bill to Congress “on day one” of his administration making the program permanent.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today is a victory made possible by the courage and resilience of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who bravely stood up and refused to be ignored. As President, I will immediately work to make it permanent by sending a bill to Congress on day one of my Administration,” the former vice president said in a statement at the time.

DACA is a program that covers individuals who have been in the United States since they were children because they were brought into the country illegally by their parents.

Asked by The Hill in July if immigration would be top-of-mind for Democrats if they won in November, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) referred to Biden and Schumer’s promises.

“They’ve all said it’s first up,” the Illinois Democrat said.

“It’s definitely on the agenda,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told the outlet, adding that immigration reform would have economic benefits.

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