Biden Taps AOC and Jayapal To Help Shape Party Policy

Source: The Intercept

If you were to draw up a list of the most plain-spoken, passionate, and progressive women in American public life, you would have to include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Sara Nelson somewhere near the top. All of them, of course, were loud and ardent advocates for Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primaries.

Imagine my surprise then — or was it disbelief? — to discover on Wednesday morning that they had been appointed as co-chairs of three of the six “joint task forces” that are meant to unify the Democratic Party on policy in the run-up to November.

Jayapal, sponsor of the Medicare for All bill in the House, is co-chair of the health care task force. Ocasio-Cortez, sponsor of the Green New Deal bill in the House, is co-chair of the climate change task force. Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants and a champion of organized labor, is co-chair of the economy task force.

To be clear: These three co-chairs will be representing Sanders and his vision for the party. It was the Vermont senator who recommended them for these positions, and pushed to have them included. Remarkably, though, it was Joe Biden, Mr. Status Quo himself, who signed off on them.

“We’ve set up joint committees together to deal with how we would deal with everything from the virus all the way down to education, the criminal justice system, the new green deal, etc.,” the former vice-president told a Las Vegas TV news outlet. “I’m working with Bernie and his people and, so, we’ve made some changes and listened to Bernie supporters. And for example, we have, you know, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. She is on one of the panels as well.”

This is all, to borrow an old line of Biden’s, “a big fucking deal.” It isn’t only the impressive trio of AOC, Jayapal, and Nelson who feature on these panels. Also on the health care task force is Abdul El-Sayed, who ran an insurgent campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Michigan and is the co-author of a book on Medicare for All. Also on the economy task force is Stephanie Kelton, a pioneer of Modern Monetary Theory and author of a forthcoming book on deficit hysteria. Also on the climate change task force is Varshini Prakash, executive director and co-founder of the Sunrise Movement — the progressive group behind the Green New Deal that gave Biden’s presidential climate plan an “F” rating in 2019. Meanwhile, Heather Gautney, an activist-scholar and top Sanders adviser, is co-chair of the education task force.

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