* Was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016
* Became a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
* Laments the the “centuries of racism” that have plagued America
* Claims that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is unjust and oppressive
* Advocates the dissolution of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency
* Supports the Green New Deal, amnesty for illegal aliens, and tax hikes for the wealthy
* Favors the censorship of conservative “disinformation” on social media websites
* Supports the practice of permitting “transgender” minors to undergo “gender-affirming” interventions
Born in India on September 21, 1965, Pramila Jayapal earned a BA in English Literature at Georgetown University in 1986, and an MBA in Marketing & Nonprofit Management at Northwestern University in 1990. She subsequently worked as a financial analyst with Paine Webber (1986-88), an intern with the Population and Community Development Association (1989), an account consultant with the Physio-Control Corporation (1990-91), a director with the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (1991-95), and the proprietor of Pramila Jayapal Consulting (1997-2001).
Jayapal became a U.S. citizen in 2000. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, she founded – with assistance from Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott – an organization called Hate Free Zone (later renamed OneAmerica), to “address the backlash, hate crimes, and discrimination against immigrant communities of color, primarily Muslims, Arab Americans, East Africans, and South Asians.” Jayapal served as executive director of this group for 11 years.
In September 2011 the Center for Community Change (CCC) honored Jayapal with its “Champion Award,” by which the organization recognizes “heroes in the social justice movement.” Other Champion Award recipients that year included Frances Fox Piven, Raul Grijalva, and key leaders of the SEIU and Voces de la Frontera.
In 2012 Jayapal helped establish Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, whose stated mission is to improve the lives of newcomers to America.
From 2012-14, Jayapal served as a Distinguished Taconic Fellow with the Center for Community Change. In February 2013 she received a “White House Champion of Change” award from President Barack Obama.
In an August 9, 2015 editorial lamenting the “centuries of racism” that have plagued America, Jayapal wrote: “As a country, we still have not recognized or acknowledged what we have wrought and continue to inflict on black people. The bigger results are how black kids as young as two are being disciplined differently in their daycares and pre-k classes. That black people are routinely denied jobs that white people get with the same set of experiences and skills. That black people … continue to die at the hands of police, in domestic violence, on the streets. That black mothers must tell their children as young as seven or eight that they have to be careful about what pants or hoodies they wear or to not assert their rights if stopped. That this country supports an institutionalized form of racism called the criminal justice system that makes profit … on jailing black and brown people.” She also suggested that as recompense for historical wrongs, the U.S. government should pay “reparations for slavery” to black people.
From 2014-16, Jayapal served as a Democratic member of the Washington State Senate. In 2016 the voters of Washington’s 7th Congressional District elected her to the U.S. House of Representatives. Soon after taking office in January 2017, Jayapal became a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. That same year, she endorsed Keith Ellison for the post of DNC Chair.
Particularly outspoken on immigration-related matters, Jayapal in January 2018 published an op-ed in The Nation magazine defending the notion that new immigrants should be permitted to come to the U.S. because of their familial ties to immigrants already here, rather than because of whatever skills or merit they may possess. “Republican attempts to recharacterize this valuable system of family-based immigration as ‘chain migration’ are not just false,” she said. “They are rekindling a racist ideology that was present at the beginning of our immigration system.” Five months later, in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, Jayapal and approximately 575 fellow demonstrators were arrested for obstructing others in a public place as they protested what Jayapal characterized as President Donald Trump’s “cruel zero-tolerance policy” on immigration. That same year, Jayapal joined fellow Congressional Democrats Mark Pocan and Adriano Espaillat in introducing legislation that called for the dissolution of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
In her 2018 reelection bid, Jayapal’s campaign website pledged that she would continue to use her position as a legislator to “stand up to the climate change deniers in Congress” by “pushing to reduce carbon emissions,” “invest[ing] in alternative energies like solar and wind power,” and put[ting] an end to toxic fracking and deep water drilling.” The website also stated that Jayapal would fight to “re-enfranchise the more than two million ex-felons who are African-Americans and paid their debt to society”; “stop the systematic efforts to disenfranchise minority voters by requiring Ids” at polling places; and “fight for raising the federal minimum wage so that the disproportionate number of workers of color in low-wage jobs can be paid fairly for their work.”
In 2018 as well, Jayapal supported fellow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s so-called Green New Deal, environmental legislation designed to rapidly eliminate all fossil-fuel use from the U.S. economy, create a basic income program and a federal “living-wage” jobs guarantee, implement a government-run health care system, and replace free-market capitalism with a socialist economic framework.
In the Spring of 2018, Jayapal and Mark Pocan addressed a Democracy Alliance gathering titled “Building a Progressive Legislation Pipeline.”
That same year, Jayapal and fellow Democratic Representatives Keith Ellison and Debbie Dingell served as founding co-chairs of the Medicare For All Congressional Caucus, which advocates for the implementation of a government-run health care system.
In July 2018 – just a few weeks before Jayapal’s August 7 Democratic primary – 16 interns in her campaign office threatened to strike because they had not yet been paid them for their work. “The exploitative conditions of our labor,” the interns told Jayapal’s campaign staff in a letter, “differ so drastically from the supposed principles of this campaign that we can no longer, in good faith, continue our work without a critical reevaluation of the conditions of our compensation.” Later that month, Jayapal finally paid her interns the money they were owed.
In November 2018 Jayapal was re-elected to her second term in the office, winning 84 percent of the vote in defeating Republican Craig Keller. Her campaign was endorsed by Our Revolution, an organization run by former campaign workers and supporters of Bernie Sanders‘s 2016 presidential campaign.
In January 2019, Jayapal stated that President Trump’s “ultimate goal is … to make America pure in the sense of not having immigrants, not having folks of color here and shutting down every form of legal immigration.…” Trump’s policies, she said, were “deeply offensive” to the “soul” and “psyche” of “people of color” who “are seeking asylum [and] who can no longer can get in, even though it’s legal to seek asylum, and not just at a legal port of entry.”
In January 2020, shortly after President Trump had ordered the U.S. military to kill Qasem Soleimani — the longtime leader of the terrorist Quds Force division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps — Jayapal emerged from a congressional classified briefing on the killing and stated: “President Trump recklessly assassinated Qasem Soleimani. He had no evidence of an imminent threat or attack, and we say that coming from a classified briefing where again, there was no raw evidence presented that there was an imminent threat.” Her remarks stood in contrast to a Pentagon statement that said: “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.” The Pentagon also confirmed that Soleimani had approved the previous week’s violent attack against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
In February 2021, Jayapal joined fellow Democratic Representatives Grace Meng and Jesus Garcia, along with Senators Edward Markey and Mazie Hirono, in introducing the New Deal for New Americans Act, legislation that called for: (a) increasing refugee admissions to the U.S. at least 125,000 per fiscal year; (b) supporting organizations that assist immigrants in need of know-your-rights education, relief from a deportation order, or help in applying for citizenship or other legal status; (c) promoting automatic voter registration for newly naturalized individuals; (d) bolstering family reunification policies by reducing (from 21 to 18) the age at which citizens can petition for eligible family members to receive immigrant visas; and (e) prohibiting the deportation of anyone on grounds that he is deemed a public charge.
On May 19, 2021, Jayapal spoke out against the state of Israel, which at the time was engaged in a military conflict with Hamas terrorists who had recently fired more than 3,000 rockets toward Israeli population centers, prompting Israel to respond by using precision-guided bombs to target Hamas weaponry and infrastructure in Gaza. “We condemn Hamas’ firing of those rockets, but I think you have to look at what prompted even that behavior,” said the congresswoman. “I think there was the continuing annexation that Israel has been undertaking, for years, actually…this has been a pattern of action from Israel that, frankly, has taken away the idea even of a two-state solution, has led to increased hopelessness from the Palestinian people.” She continued: “And I think what Hamas has done is — obviously we condemn that – but we have to look at the power balance here, or imbalance as it were, and we have to put more responsibility on Israel in maintaining peace in the region.”
At a September 20, 2021 party celebrating her own birthday, Jayapal, who had previously condemned people for not wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, did not wear a mask. Video footage of the event, which was posted on Instagram by fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, showed Jayapal not only celebrating without a mask but also blowing out the birthday candles on her cake. When Jayapal had tested positive for coronavirus in early January 2021, she accused maskless Republicans of having infected her. “I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” she tweeted at the time. “Only hours after Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack.” Added Jayapal: “Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy. I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”
On August 25, 2020 — during a violent Black Lives Matter/Antifa riot which followed an incident where a white Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer had shot and permanently disabled a knife-wielding black criminal named Jacob Blake — Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white youth from Antioch, Illinois, drove to Kenosha, where his father resided, with the intent of: (a) helping to prevent further vandalism in that city, and (b) providing medical aid to people injured in the melee. At the scene of the unrest, Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic rifle that had been purchased (with his money) and held for him by his friend Dominick Black, a resident of Kenosha.
When white rioter and Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum — who had spent 15 years in prison for multiple child molestation convictions that included anal rape — chased Rittenhouse, threatened to kill him, and tried to take away his rifle, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum. While subsequently being chased by a crowd of approximately a dozen rioters, Rittenhouse ran down a street toward police vehicles, in hopes that the officers might protect him from his pursuers. But the fleeing Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground, at which point a 39-year-old white man viciously jump-kicked his head. Then, while Rittenhouse was still on the ground, white Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber — an ex-convict who in 2013 had pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of strangulation, suffocation, and false imprisonment — struck him on the head and neck with a skateboard and attempted to pull away his rifle, at which point Rittenhouse killed Huber with a single gunshot to the chest. And when white West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz — who had a long arrest history that included multiple misdemeanors and felonies — then approached the fallen Rittenhouse and pointed a handgun directly at him, Rittenhouse shot him once in the right arm, wounding but not killing the man.
Rittenhouse was subsequently tried on six criminal charges which included homicide, reckless endangerment, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. A large number of leftists portrayed him as a racist, Trump-supporting white vigilante who had recklessly fired his gun at “social justice” and “racial justice” demonstrators in Kenosha. After a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts on November 19, 2021, Jayapal said: “I’m heartbroken. If we’re ever going to tackle racial injustice in America, we have to admit our justice system isn’t working for Black, brown and Indigenous people. Then, we have to transform it. It won’t be easy but I’m committed to organizing alongside you to make it happen.”
During a January 2, 2022 appearance on on MSNBC’s The Sunday Show, Jayapal applauded Twitter for its decision to permanently ban the personal account of Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who, according to the social media giant, had been repeatedly spreading “misinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccines designed to combat it. (The day before the ban was announced, Greene had tweeted about an “extremely high amount of covid vaccine deaths” that she said were being “ignored” by the media.) Though Jayapal welcomed the news of Greene’s permanent suspension, she felt that Twitter should have shut down Greene’s account much sooner than it did:
“It’s no secret that our social media companies have been part of their algorithms promoting disinformation. And I think that these steps [banning Greene] are important but, frankly, a little too little and a little too late. The reality is it’s not just Marjorie Taylor Greene – all over Twitter, social media, Facebook, all of these companies have been using algorithms that are just about clickbait, not about truth. And so if we are going to take on the disinformation that’s out there, the big lie, and everything that goes along with it, then yes, this is a part of it but it’s got to be much, much more. That said, I think it’s just as well that we take one voice [Greene’s] that is deliberately spreading disinformation out of the mix as much as possible. That’s certainly a good thing.”
As gasoline prices across the U.S. were skyrocketing in March 2022 — due to the Biden Administration’s severe restrictions on oil exploration and production coupled with the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine — Jayapal placed the blame on “clear profiteering” by oil companies. Citing a recent temporary dip in the price of crude oil that did not spark an immediate drop in gasoline prices at the pump, the congresswoman said: “We go after corporate America because corporate America is often profiteering,.”
In March 2022 as well, Jayapal — herself the mother of a transgender child — wrote an op-ed published by Teen Vogue magazine on March 31, International Transgender Day of Visibility, calling for federal protections for transgender children. Some excerpts:
“In an age where more people are open about being LGBTQ+ than ever before, it is disturbing to see the progress we have made as a society threatened yet again. Even as marriage equality has become the law of the land, LGBTQ+ individuals face increased hate and violence fueled by Republican governors and state legislatures pushing bills that — at their core — attack the rights of transgender youth.
“As an organizer, I’ve spent my entire life advocating for civil rights, human rights, and the equality of all people — but I also come to this moment as the proud mother of a transgender child.
“Like hundreds of thousands of parents with transgender kids across the country, I want to do everything I can to support my daughter as she strives to embrace who she is and live as her most authentic self. I have watched admiringly as she has come into her full creativity and brilliance. But I also worry deeply that the world we live in now doesn’t receive her in the same way — that she will face violence and barriers that we know are there for too many transgender people.
“Transgender youth are some of the most vulnerable children in our country today, experiencing higher rates of bullying and harassment, physical and sexual violence, depressed academic performance, and an epidemic of mental distress and suicidality. Trans kids face unbelievable odds stacked against them already.
“These odds have only been made worse in the last few years as Republicans have cynically decided to use these kids — and their parents — as a political wedge issue. They have escalated their transphobic attacks and pushed transphobic bill after transphobic bill. Not only is it absurd and outrageous to attack the very identity of transgender kids and criminalize parents who seek to support their children, but it is also extremely harmful to the well-being and the future of our children and our communities.
“States have gone against the advice of medical professionals and banned the gender-affirming care trans kids need to thrive. Trans stories have been removed from public libraries. Merely discussing gender and sexuality in public schools has been deemed a threat, and the parents of trans kids are being wrongfully demonized as predators and abusers.
“Texas governor Greg Abbott horrifyingly weaponized the state’s child welfare agency to terrorize and alienate families of transgender kids following best-practice, evidence-based medical advice for their children. The order from the governor is as unconstitutional as it is openly discriminatory and hostile to the well-being of these children. Another proposal in Idaho would make gender-affirming health care a felony, threatening those who help trans people travel out of state for care with life in prison.
“Both of these bills are fueled by a cocktail of ignorance, transphobia, and malice for trans kids, their parents, and the doctors and the communities who want to help them. The bills are an outrageous violation of human rights.”
During an April 27, 2022 appearance on MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart Reports, Jayapal lauded the Biden administration for its plan to lift “Title 42,” a Trump-era policy authorizing the swift deportation of illegal migrants who were deemed to be public health risks in light of the COVID-19 epidemic — without allowing them an opportunity to apply for asylum. Said the congresswoman: “I think it’s important that the Biden administration has moved on this…. And I think every Democrat who criticized the previous [Trump] administration, but is now saying, oh, there’s a problem here, and going to the border and making it seem like there’s a problem here has to lean into the fact that we are a country that has prided ourselves on allowing immigrants to come from all over the world. I am a product of that. And I think we need to make sure that we continue to focus on the need to reform the system and not penalize asylum seekers who are trying to legitimately seek entry into this country.”
On May 2, 2022, Politico reported that an unidentified individual had leaked an initial draft majority opinion, written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, in which the Court had decided to strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. “No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending,” said Politico. Whereas Roe had guaranteed federal constitutional protections for abortion rights, the new ruling would return responsibility for those rights to each individual state. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote in his opinion, adding: “We hold that Roe and Casey [a 1992 decision that largely reaffirmed the rights set forth in Roe] must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
In response to the Court’s decision, an outraged Jayapal told Victor Blackwell, the host of CNN’s Newsroom program: “This is a stunning, stunning rebuke of precedent and of the fundamental freedom that women have to make choices about our own bodies and our own futures and our own economic security. And the thing is, Victor, that these justices are acting like this is somehow something that they have the right to change. They do not have the right to change this, which has been settled law for two generations now of people who have grown up, who have gone through their twenties in the firm belief that they can make these decisions about their own bodies.”
After the Court officially announced its decision on June 24, 2022, Jayapal, rejecting the very legitimacy of the five Justices who had voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, wrote in a series of tweets:
- “Today, a decades-long project of the extreme right-wing has come to fruition: the Supreme Court has overturned the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade.”
- “As one of the one in four women in this country who has had an abortion, I am outraged at what this will mean for those who need abortion care—particularly those who will be most harmed by this decision: Black and Brown women and those who can’t afford to travel for care.”
- “The Supreme Court has now mandated forced pregnancy, taking away an intensely personal freedom for pregnant people to make decisions about our own bodies with a doctor or loved one. Every woman, every family, every pregnant person should fear what this means for their futures.”
- “As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I am furious that right-wing extremists and Republican Senators have warped the Supreme Court into a partisan political body that does not respect decades of precedent or the fundamental freedoms of millions of Americans”
- “These 5 justices were appointed by two presidents who lost the popular vote, yet overturned what was a 7-2 decision in 1973, a decision that Americans have considered settled for 50 years. This Court is out of touch with the people and increasingly suffers a legitimacy crisis.”
- “SCOTUS and the GOP in Congress won’t stop here. The justices explicitly say the Court should reconsider ‘all substantive due process precedents,’ i.e. the right to contraception, same-sex marriage, and same-sex relationships. The Court’s majority has no respect for precedent.”
In a September 11, 2022 tweet which she deleted shortly after having posted it, Jayapal wrote: “Today we remember the 2,996 people who were killed on 9/11 and all those who lost their lives serving our country in the forever wars that followed.” But in fact, the number of innocent victims who had been killed in the deadly al-Qaeda attacks of 9/11/2001 was 2,977. Jayapal’s figure of 2,996 included the 19 Islamic terrorists who had hijacked the planes on 9/11. Jayapal had cited the same 2,996 figure when commemorating the 9/11 death toll a year earlier, on the 20th anniversary of the atrocity.
Jayapal’s 2022 tweet also smeared America as a place where the 9/11 attacks, by her telling, had sparked a plague of anti-Muslim hatred and oppression: “At the same time, we must acknowledge the climate of hate that our Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and other immigrant communities have had to endure.” In a similar vein, Jayapal wrote in a separate tweet on 9/11/2022: “Today we must remember the communities right here at home that suffered so much — not only through the terrorist attacks that affected every American’s psyche, but also the hate, discrimination, and erosion of civil liberties they had to endure.”
During a May 23, 2023 congressional hearing, Jayapal accused Republicans of having committed the “serious violation” of revealing details about the Biden administration’s mishandling of a 17-year-old MS-13 gang member from El Salvador who had entered the U.S. illegally in March 2022. Soon after that teen had crossed the border illegally, the Department of Homeland Security apprehended him and handed him over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which in turn released him to a sponsor in Maryland in May 2022. One month later the teen ran away from the sponsor’s custody, and then in July he allegedly raped and murdered an autistic 20-year-old woman named Kayla Hamilton. “It is imperative that we do not interfere with the integrity of criminal proceedings,” Jayapal said during the May 23 hearing. “I would hope that my colleagues would not disclose any information that could impact the criminal proceedings or [the victim’s mother’s] ability to get justice for her daughter.” Jayapal then proceeded to inadvertently enter into the public record an email from HHS whose subject line contained the previously undisclosed name of the alien.
As matters of principle, Jayapal believes that:
- all women should have not only the right to undergo an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, but also to receive a government subsidy for an abortion if they are in financial need;
- the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) should serve as a stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run healthcare system, which Jayapal describes as “Medicare For All”;
- all employers, public and private, should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to nonwhites and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
- capital punishment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and is never justified, under any circumstances;
- U.S. defense spending should be scaled back dramatically;
- wealthy people should be required to pay much higher tax rates than those who earn less;
- federal spending on infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery program;
- the nationalization of failing banks and corporations is preferable to federal bailouts of those entities; and
- voter ID laws are, by and large, racially motivated attempts to suppress minority voting and should be eliminated.
In addition to her aforementioned activities, Jayapal served a stint as co-chair of We Belong Together, a feminist organization promoting immigration reform, an end to deportations, and a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens. She also has contributed a number of articles to ColorLines, a magazine with ties to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Further Reading: “Pramila Jayapal” (Ballotpedia.org, Votesmart.org, Keywiki.org, OnTheIssues.org); “Guest Editorial: Why Saturday’s Bernie Sanders Rally Left Me Feeling Heartbroken” (by Pramila Jayapal, 8-9-2015); “Pramila Jayapal: ‘Chain Migration’ is a ‘Myth’” (TrevorLoudon.com, 1-24-2018); “House Democrat, Nearly 575 Others Arrested Protesting Border Policy Inside Senate Building” (Breitbart.com, 6-28-2018); “Ice-Breakers” (National Review, 8-13-2018); “Democratic Congresswoman Caves after Unpaid Re-Election Campaign Interns Threaten Strike” (Daily Caller, 7-26-2018); “Dem Rep. Jayapal: Trump Wants to Make America ‘Pure’ Again by Eliminating All Immigration of ‘Folks of Color’” (Breitbart.com, 1-11-2019); Pramila Jayapal’s Positions on Key Issues (OnTheIssues.org).
- During her tenure in that post, Jayapal worked to pass the Early Start Act, which put an additional $158 million of taxpayer funds into early childhood education. She also introduced the Washington Promise program, designed to provide two years of free tuition at community and technical colleges for all eligible Washington residents. And she led her fellow members of the Democratic caucus in signing a letter that called on Congress to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling of 2010, which held that corporations have a right to freedom of political speech.
- Jayapal’s campaign was endorsed by such notables as Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, Donna Edwards, Luis Gutiérrez, Raul Grijalva, Lois Frankel, Ted Lieu, Bill McKibben, Gloria Steinem, Linda Sarsour, and Deepak Bhargava. It was also endorsed by a number of organizations including Friends Of the Earth, OneAmerica Votes, Democracy For America, MoveOn.org, EMILY’s List, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the National Organization for Women PAC, the NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and Women’s Action for New Directions.
-  The Texas and Idaho bills were intended to prevent the administration of puberty blocking medications or hormones, and surgical procedures — e.g., vasectomies, hysterectomies, mastectomies –designed to help minor children become “transgender.”