Dem Jamaal Bowman Says Progressives Will Push Policies in Biden WH : 'Our Mandate From the American People'

Congressional member-elect Jamaal Bowman of New York echoed fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Monday in dismissing criticism of House progressives. Bowman said elected members of the Democratic Party's more progressive wing received the same mandate as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did with their victory.

Bowman, a longtime Bronx educator who defeated incumbent Democrat Eliot Engel in June, told CNN Monday that progressive House members and their supporters pushed Biden's campaign over the top in cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta. Bowman rejected the criticism of some ousted and re-elected moderates who blamed pushes to "defund the police" and "Medicare for All" as the reason Democrats lost several seats this month.

"We will continue to work in collaboration with the White House and our colleagues in Congress. We have to. That is our mandate from the American people," says Congressman-elect Jamaal Bowman of pushing a progressive political agenda during the Biden administration. pic.twitter.com/VNvqS3LSMt

— CNN (@CNN) November 9, 2020

"You have to run your race, in your district and respond to the needs of the people in your district," Bowman told CNN. "This is about deep, authentic relationships, this is about transformational politics, and I disagree that someone running on a different platform hundreds of miles away is going to impact what happens in a particular race."

During a Sunday CNN interview, Ocasio-Cortez pushed back on the premise of the "Democrats Divided" question and said not a single member of Congress campaigned on socialism or "defunding the police."

CNN host John King on Monday asked Bowman how he might respond if and when the Biden administration approaches House Democrats and says, "we share goals but we have to trim our sales a little bit." Bowman said progressives have already been working with the presumptive Biden White House team in coalition with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

"We've already been pushing throughout the Biden campaign, it was a Biden-Sanders coalition that made climate change a central focus of the Biden campaign. There was a Biden-Sanders coalition that made racial equity a focus...and universal child care and early childhood education. We've already begun working with the White House to ensure our progressive policies are on the agenda."

Bowman's opponent, incumbent Eliot Engel, received the endorsement of several high-profile establishment Democrats including Hillary Clinton—but Bowman still won his 16th District New York primary by about 15 points.

"We will continue to work in collaboration with the White House and our colleagues in Congress," Bowman said. "We have to. That is our mandate from the American people. The American people support Medicare-for-All in overwhelming numbers."

Bowman said the overwhelming majority of Americans already agree that the issue of public safety should be re-allocated from its current focus—additional police—to instead finance "food security, housing security, job programs and fully funding education."

Ocasio-Cortez, who alongside Bowman and Sanders have identified as Democratic Socialists, has repeatedly pushed back against the narrative that progressive Democrats aren't on equal footing with moderates just because some lost their elections last week.

"Progressives have assets to offer the Party that the Party has not yet fully leaned into...Every single swing seat member that co-sponsored Medicare for All won their re-election, and so the conversation is a little bit deeper than saying anything progressive is toxic," the New York congresswoman said, adding that intense Republican-led smear campaigns have pushed those narratives forward as a means of dividing Democrats.

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger earlier this week appeared to blame progressive factions of the party for losing some House seats to Republicans: "Not only did we not win the Senate, but we lost House seats that we shouldn't have lost, in my opinion, great members who were focused on the issues that matter to people and had voted on issues that matter to people...we need to do an after-action report."

Bowman agreed House Democrats should conduct a report, but placed doubt on them concluding that progressives were somehow to blame for any election losses.

Justice Democrats, the progressive group which opposes corporate donors, described Bowman just days before his election as, "The 11-year old boy who was beaten by police officers and then started his own public school to take care of his community is now officially going to be a Congressman."

Moderate Republicans including Utah Senator Mitt Romney said they will continue pushing for conservative policies regardless of President Donald Trump's status in or out of the White House. He reiterated on recent TV shows that he and other so-called moderates will continue opposing Medicare for All and other "progressive" policies.

Newsweek reached out to Bowman's office for additional remarks Monday afternoon.

jamaal bowman progressive house democrats
Congressional member-elect Jamaal Bowman of New York echoed fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Monday in dismissing House criticism of progressives, noting that the liberal faction of the party received the same mandate as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Screenshot: CNN | YouTube