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Top 20 US Progressives: Congressman Keith Ellison

Co-chair, Progressive Caucus.

Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress and the first African American to win a House seat for Minnesota, is joint chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the biggest single bloc within the 192-strong Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives. In April last year, the CPC released a proposed "People's Budget", calling for higher taxes on wealthy Americans and a stronger focus on job creation, rather than welfare cuts, by the Obama administration.

Ellison's left-wing principles were clear from his first week in the House, in January 2007, when he voted to increase the federal minimum wage, support stem-cell research and allow Medicare to negotiate cheaper drug prices for patients. He later opposed the Bush administration's troop surge in Iraq and co-sponsored a bill to impeach Vice-President Dick Cheney for "high crimes and misdemeanours". In recent months, the congressman has been a notable Capitol Hill supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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This article first appeared in the 09 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Forget Obama