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20 US Congressmen attend langar on Capitol Hill

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Washington: Over 300 people, including 20 Congressmen, attended a langar (community meal) on Capitol Hill here, a media report said on Thursday. langarNYT

The langer was hosted by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), a non-profit organisation, and Congressman Mike Honda on July 28, American Bazaar web portal reported on Wednesday.

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan, Indian-American Ami Bera, Vice-Chair of the Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley, and Representatives Jerry McNerne and Grace Meng were among the dignitaries who attended the event.

“I am honored to once again host this event that celebrates the contributions of Sikh Americans by breaking bread with members of the Sikh Community, Congressional members, and staff,” Honda said in a statement.

“Sikh Americans have a long history of innovative community engagement and leadership, from the Honorable Dalip Singh Saund — who served for the US Congress and was one of the great pioneers — to the advocates at SALDEF, who work to build dialogue, deepen our understanding, and uphold social justice for all Americans,” he added.

“Having the occasion to share a meal as equals is a strong reminder about the values of equality and universal friendship.”

Jaspreet Kaur, member of Sikh Lead, an SALDEF initiative, pointed out that even though Sikh-Americans have a 125-year history in the US, there are a lot of misperceptions about the community.

“Langar on the Hill is a significant opportunity for us to introduce our American history and Sikh values, including equality for all,” she said in a statement.

(IANS)

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Democrats in Congress Ready To Take Control

This is about us lifting up the voices, the stories, the struggles, the innovation and the ideas of the people that we represent.

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Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, speaks at a small rally outside an orientation meeting for incoming members of Congress at Harvard University. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, right, and Rep.-elect Lori Trahan, second from right, look on in Cambridge, Mass. VOA

Incoming members of the Democratic Party’s new U.S. House majority say they’re ready to turn the energy of their campaigns into real power on Capitol Hill.

Rep.-elects Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and a handful of other liberal-leaning incoming Democrats used an orientation event for freshman lawmakers Tuesday sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics to stake out some of their top issues – from gun violence to health care to climate change.

They say they’re ready to leverage their victories at the ballot box into victories in Congress — an institution that prizes seniority.

Pressley said power is about more than just how many terms a lawmaker has served.

“It’s a confluence of things. It’s about the committees that we’ll be appointed to. It’s about the values- and issues-based caucuses that we’ll serve on. And it’s about us simply leveraging the platform that we have available to us as well as our social media networks,” Pressley said.

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Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar reacts after appearing at her midterm election night party in Minneapolis, Minnesota. VOA

Pressley won election to the House by beating a fellow Democrat – longtime U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano – in a September primary.

Ocasio-Cortez said like-minded incoming Democratic members of the House have the numbers needed to press their case for change.

“We have a magic number in the House … and it’s 218,” she said. “Two hundred and eighteen is the magic number to get things done and how many member Democratic freshmen do we have? Sixty Three. Sixty-three of that 218 is brand new and 35 of that 63 have rejected corporate PAC money, 35 of that 63 is not funded by opioid companies, not funded by the NRA, not funded by for-profit health care, not funded by fossil fuels. Thirty-five are independent of the interests of corporate influence.”

Like Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez also won election by defeating another veteran Democratic incumbent – Joe Crowley – in New York’s June primary.

Ocasio-Cortez said Democrats have to fight back against an opposition she said “is predicated on us being turned against each other, of us accepting the idea of zero-sum thinking that one community’s gain must be another community’s loss.”

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Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat-New York, talks during a news conference with members of the Progressive Caucus in Washington. VOA

“We know that all of our issues are tied and are the same,” she added. “There is no health care justice without gun violence reform.”

Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley have both pledged to support Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker after Democrats take control of the House in January.

Other new and incoming Democratic House members who spoke at Tuesday’s event include Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania and Andy Levin of Michigan.

Pressley said the timing of Tuesday’s press conference wasn’t meant as a rejection of the Harvard orientation event.

Also Read: Political Ads Under Scrutiny By Google Before The EU Elections

On its website the school says the sessions are designed to help incoming House members “forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office.” Since 1972, the program has hosted nearly 700 current and new member of Congress.

“There is nothing adversarial,” Pressley said. “This is about us lifting up the voices, the stories, the struggles, the innovation and the ideas of the people that we represent. So I think it’s a good thing.” (VOA)