House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has selected which Democratic members she will appoint to a new select committee focused on addressing wealth inequality — with a former Wall Street financier-turned-nonprofit chief leading the team that includes AOC being in charge of “generational disparities and increasing worker power.”
Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled her picks to serve on the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth in a “Dear Colleague” letter to lawmakers on Tuesday, with Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) serving as chairman and notable progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) making the cut.
Himes’ Connecticut district includes some of the most expensive zip codes in the nation such as Greenwich, as well as lower-income areas like Bridgeport.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference Wednesday, Pelosi explained that she chose the Connecticut lawmaker to chair the select committee because of his professional background.
Himes spent over a decade at Goldman Sachs before switching careers to lead a New York City-based nonprofit focused on affordable housing in the Bronx.
Aside from Himes, all seven other committee members will have an area of concern they focus on.
Ocasio-Cortez, for example, will focus on “addressing generational disparities and increasing worker power in the economy.”
Jayapal, who also serves as Congressional Progressive Caucus chair, will attempt to deliver “workers better wages and a brighter future.”
In addition to them, Pelosi has also chosen Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Vicente González (D-Texas), Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) to join the panel.
The House speaker, who announced her plans to launch the committee in late December, referenced a comment from President Franklin Roosevelt when he established the Temporary National Economic Committee in 1938.
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself,” says the quote, which Pelosi read aloud.
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living.”
In an interview with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius on Tuesday, Pelosi described the panel as a bipartisan one, saying it would include voices from all sides.
“Rust Belt districts harmed by plant shutdowns, urban districts ravaged by racial injustice, rural districts where farmers are suffering from drought, and districts across the country where young people are struggling with debt, low-wage jobs and an uncertain future,” Ignatius wrote as a list of possible examples.
At that same presser, Himes said they had not yet received names from Republican leadership for who would represent their side on the panel.
“[T]hey are in the works and hope they will be in short order coming forward,” he said.