Progressive Congress In the News

Shadow GOP Spending Big on Outreach to Latinos

- August 12, 2014

This post, by Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus, Executive Director of Progressive Congress, originally appeared in Blue Nation Review, August 12, 2014.

Flying largely under the radar, Republican strategists have been quietly seeking ways to woo Latino voters to their side targeting first the 2014 mid-term elections and building for the larger presidential race in 2016.

Consider this case for Latino support from Fox News earlier this year.

Utilizing Chris Christie’s latest gubernatorial campaign as a test for reaching Hispanics, they were able to increase support for Governor Christie to 51% among Hispanic voters, a 19 point increase from his performance in 2009. In contrast, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won just 27% of the Hispanic vote nationally, the lowest showing for a GOP presidential candidate in a two-person race since the 1970s

After their success in New Jersey, in 2013, they began an eight state strategy where the RNC  deployed 16 paid staffers in eight states – including Florida, California, Pennsylvania and New York — and are building coalitions with other organizations to make inroads with Hispanics.

Republican Party elders know that they must be more inclusive or risk losing Latino voters for decades to come.  The Koch brothers have begun pumping millions of dollars into a new initiative entitled the Libre Initiative – it means “free”.  Libre’s organizers already have 3,000 Texas volunteers, with similar efforts taking place in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia.

To no one’s surprise, their message is one of limited government and economic freedom sandwiched between lessons on how to build a family-run business and prayer breakfasts with Hispanic pastors. They smartly pitch conservative ideals while collecting donations for the recent wave of minors crossing the US-Mexico border.

Some call it a shadow GOP — one with a gentle emphasis on social services, candy-packed Easter baskets and assimilation. Meanwhile, Conservatives have a different message – hostility to immigrants and minorities. “Send them back to where they came from.”

In September, Governor Christie will travel to Mexico on a “trade” mission to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto and corporate titans – the same folks who brought us NAFTA.  Apparently, he plans to also spend time with every day Mexicans.  This should be interesting.  As he reaches out to Mexico’s moneyed elite, let’s hope Latinos here in the US watch closely. Is this a wolf in sheep’s clothing? The jury is out.

H/T: Pew

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Unfinished Business: House GOP Uses Children as Scapegoats

- August 12, 2014

This post, by Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus, Executive Director of Progressive Congress, originally appeared in Blue Nation Review, August 4, 2014

House Republicans declared victory over a $654 million dollar border package that attempts to gut the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), deports the children refugees on the border and binds the President’s hands from being able to take any future action.  Nice.  Hope they’re feeling proud of themselves as they begin their five week vacation.  What kind of country have we become where children escaping violence are scapegoated and become symbols of invading hordes?  Talk about your classic NIMBY situation – not in my backyard.

Thankfully, Senator Harry Reid declared the bill dead on arrival and the President won’t sign should it ever make it to his desk.  The message we are sending out globally is that we are not the proud and welcoming nation we once were.  We have taken what we wanted and pulled up the ladder behind us. I know – how un-American of me.

istock_000012955411_large-682x1024 A friend of mine said something to me yesterday that really made me pause.   We are a nation of privilege, but we have become reckless with it.  Political expediency is more important – heaven forbid that Members of Congress should have to answer tough questions during August recess.   To paraphrase House Speaker John Boehner – my colleagues are cry-babies.

We no longer have a Congress that behaves responsibly, only selfishly.  Instead of the greater good, they search for new ways to cripple the President.  And, I’m not making a blanket statement that all Members of Congress are terrible.  Many of them are caring and thoughtful individuals who would dearly love to legislate on issues of singular importance to the nation – jobs creation, climate change mitigation, funding for highways and critical infrastructure needs. And, in the interest of fairness, eleven House Republicans actually voted against the bill. I can only offer them kudos for their courage.

Small reminder to folks: we have a midterm election coming up.  Please vote. The fate of our nation depends on you.

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This is what’s actually happening on the Texas/Mexico border

- August 12, 2014

This post by Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus, Executive Director of Progressive Congress, originally appeared in Blue Nation Review on July 22, 2014


Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America are crossing the border into the United States at great peril. Many have been smuggled in by desperate family members. Some are flat out being trafficked. There is growing evidence that a number of them have been forced into prostitution not only by the “coyote” smugglers, but by their own family members. Simply put, these are children not chattel.

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) assessed in their review of 925 immigrant children’s intake screenings that 63 percent of the children in custody could be eligible for forms of relief like asylum, “U” visas for victims of serious crimes, and “T” visas for victims of human trafficking. What does that mean? It means they have the ability to stay in the US without being deported back to their home countries.

We should not be afraid to ask why is this happening and the answer is largely the result of three things: failed economies, increased militarization of the police forces in reaction to gang violence and drug traffickers, and weak state institutions. Growing human rights abuses in this region indicate past and current law isn’t frankly working and if anything, violence and indiscriminate crime have increased. Add CAFTA to the mix and the end result is six years of further instability. This is a deadly mixture, especially when combined with predatory smugglers whispering in their ears that there is hope in America.

And so what we have today are thousands and thousands of children compelled to leave in search of their long-lost family members and the American Dream. And for many, that’s a deadly dream.

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Progressive Congress Appoints Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus Executive Director

- September 17, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Press Contact:  Annie Weinberg, 703-350-3778

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013


WASHINGTON, DC - The Progressive Congress Board of Directors appointed Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus as the new Executive Director effective September 4, 2013. Lemus will be based out of their headquarters in Washington, DC where she will direct Progressive Congress’ day-to-day operations and support the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Progressive Congress Board in the development and execution of programs and policies in support of the progressive movement and working families nationwide.

“Dr. Lemus brings an impressive record in civil and labor rights having served four years in the Obama administration as senior advisor to Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis and as Director of the Office of Public Engagement at the Department of Labor. She is a proud progressive with more than a decade of leadership experience fighting on behalf of the most vulnerable communities,” remarked Robert Borosage, Chair of the Progressive Congress Board.  He went on to say “we are very fortunate to have Dr. Lemus join us at this important time and will certainly benefit from her extensive background in policy and organizational transformation.”

As Executive Director, Dr. Lemus will lead the Progressive Congress’ efforts to chart a new vision and strategic direction in close alignment with the vision of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

From 1994-2000, she served as an adjunct professor on U.S.-Mexico border studies, international economic development and comparative politics at a number of universities including San Diego State University and the University of Memphis.  In 2000, Dr. Lemus became Director of Policy and Legislation at the League of United Latin American Citizens.  She served there until 2007, when she was tapped to lead the Labor Council of Latin American Advancement, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO & CTW. In 2008, she was elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), later becoming chair where she where he helped to establish progressive policies for the Latino civil rights movement.

Dr. Lemus has served on numerous Inter-agency Task Forces, Boards and Committees including: the Board of Trustees, University of the District of Columbia; the Senior Policy Operating Group on Trafficking in Persons; the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA); the Washington Office on Latin America; the US Labor Education in the Americas Project.

Dr. Lemus has a B.S. from St. Mary of the Woods College and a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Miami. Dr. Lemus is married to Ricardo Becerra.

Progressive Congress was founded with a goal of building lasting infrastructure that bridges the gap between progressives in Congress and the rest of the progressive infrastructure nationwide. Our mission is to build the progressive power that brings the progressive movement together to deliver results on the issues that matter to all Americans.

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Over 100K Urge Macy’s CEO: Hands Off Medicare!

- December 6, 2012

Cincinnati, OH – On Thursday, December 6th, over 100,000 American consumers urged Macy’s CEO, Terry Lundgren, to drop out of the so-called “Fix the Debt” Coalition – the council of 130 CEOs lobbying Congress with a drastic plan to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, and give more massive tax breaks to the wealthiest 2%.

These American consumers are part of Progressive Congress, the nonprofit foundation of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and CREDO, a progressive activist organization with 3.25 million members nationwide.

“Macy’s is a symbol of home and holidays for countless American families, which makes it even more appalling for CEO Terry Lundgren to violate that trust by trying to slash the vital benefits so many of these families rely on,” said Executive Director, Charles Chamberlain. “Instead of joining groups like Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs in pushing a dangerous plan that hurts seniors and working families, Terry Lundgren should honor the trust of Macy’s customers and drop out of the CEO Council.”

“Macy’s represents itself as a shining symbol of the holiday season – yet their CEO is acting like the Grinch who stole Medicare,” said Becky Bond, Political Director of CREDO. “It’s appalling that during this holiday season a group of CEOs, including Macy’s Terry Lundgren, are spending millions to lobby Congress to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits — all to get themselves and their companies massive tax breaks.”

Terry Lundgren still represents Macy’s as part of so-called “Fix the Debt” CEO coalition, alongside Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs, and 127 other CEOs. Despite their multi-million dollar media blitz the CEO Council has suffered huge blows to their credibility in recent weeks, as the Institute for Policy Studies released a report showing that the Council members stand to gain over $134 billion in tax windfalls for their companies from their proposals, which they recommend paying for by cutting core programs for working families and seniors.

The messages can be found and downloaded here:

Progressive Congress signatures

CREDO signatures [PDF]


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Reid relishes role of attack dog

The Hill - August 4, 2012

“It’s absolutely constructive and a very important role not only for getting Obama’s back but also for America,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Progressive Congress. “What frustrates me is Reid seems to be the only one. I’d like to see more senators, more surrogates, and more Republicans call out Romney for not doing what other candidates have done, release their tax returns. Thank God for Harry Reid.”

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Ten game changers that could decide the race between Obama and Romney

The Hill - June 3, 2012

“Have we gone through a six-month period where we haven’t had a revelation of Wall Street mishandling something? I’m sure we’ll have another. If it’s a game changer depends on whether it’s big enough,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Progressive Congress, the foundation of the Congressional Progressive Congress.

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