By Moira Warburton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Liberal Democrats in the U.S. Congress called on President Joe Biden on Thursday to take executive action to crack down on misconduct in the banking, airline and rail transportation industries.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus said its proposals for executive actions, agency rules and enforcement of existing legislation were “designed to provide working families relief from the cost of living crisis, take on corporate misconduct, make progress on the fight for gender and racial justice, and continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis.”
The caucus, made up of 101 U.S. House Democrats and independent Senator Bernie Sanders, has grown in influence in recent years under Representative Pramila Jayapal’s leadership. She is credited with turning the group into a formidable bloc of votes capable of torpedoing or ensuring passage of key Democratic policy initiatives.
“These are actions that we believe the White House and federal agencies have the authority and the ability to take now,” Jayapal told reporters on Thursday.
With the House of Representatives narrowly controlled by Republicans and the Senate narrowly controlled by Democrats, progress on legislation is increasingly rare, leading presidents to rely more heavily on executive action.
The progressives’ priorities include fining airlines for not giving passengers refunds for delayed flights or cancelling flights due to insufficient staffing, having regulators improve adoption of rail safety technology, expanding the list of substances considered “highly hazardous” and shortening the length of freight trains to limit derailment damage.
The group also called for expanding Federal Reserve supervision to all banks with more than $100 billion in assets and curbing incentive-based compensation arrangements at financial firms through new Securities and Exchange Commission rules.
The group proposed strengthening overtime protections for workers making less than $80,000 per year and protecting renters from landlord price gouging through rulemaking and enforcement at federal agencies.
Biden’s Democratic administration has taken the caucus’s advice on multiple occasions, most notably on canceling student debt through executive action.
That move, which a narrow majority of Americans polled by Quinnipiac University last August agreed with, has been put on ice by court challenges.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)