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AOC and other progressive freshmen will get to grill Trump officials from their new committee seats

Justice Democrats backed all four new members of the House Oversight Committee.

by Rex Santus
Jan 23 2019, 6:14pm

A new wave of progressives have landed seats on the House Oversight Committee, which means some newly famous fresh faces in Congress will get two years to publicly grill members of the Trump administration.

Most notably, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the new face of the progressive movement in Washington, scored a seat on the committee, which looks into fraud and misconduct in the federal government. She’s joined by other rising Democratic stars in the House, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ro Khanna of California. Party leaders decide who gets to sit on committees, and they are usually reserved for more-senior members of Congress.

Among its past standout efforts, the oversight committee heavily investigated Hillary Clinton’s email use and the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, while Republicans controlled the committee. On Wednesday, the committee launched an investigation into security clearances issued to Trump's transition team, including Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn, NBC reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Tuesday evening announcement that the four would serve on the committee, which has 24 Democratic members, is another indication of a progressive shift happening in Congress. Justice Democrats, a group founded after the 2016 election to reform the Democratic Party and pull it to the left, backed all four new members. None of the four new members accept PAC money.

Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib have already made waves in Washington for their willingness to publicly attack Republicans — and even Democrats, in some cases. Democratic staffers told the Associated Press that the oversight committee would seek President Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he controversially has not released, as well as other financial records related to his businesses.

Ocasio-Cortez also recently secured a seat on the Financial Services Committee, one of the top committees in Congress that oversees big banks and other parts of the financial sector. In other words, she’ll get to go toe to toe with Wall Street. It’s an extremely unusual accomplishment for a freshman member of the House, but Ocasio-Cortez is an extremely unusual member of the House: She enjoys an outsized platform and has been able to pull establishment Democrats to the left on a number of issues, including climate change. Ocasio-Cortez said her appointments have only been possible because of grassroots support.