Rep. Pramila Jayapal Named to Politico Power List as Person to Watch in 2018

The Washington State Senate passes Senate Resolution 8696, honoring 2016 Republic Day in India, during a Pro Forma Session, January 26th, 2016, the 16th day of the Legislative Session.

Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a fast-rising Democratic star, has featured in the Politico magazine’s “Power List for the year 2018” for having assumed the mantle of a House “leader of the resistance.”

Jayapal, 52, is in the fifth position and the only Indian American in the power list. She is described by Politico as a “feisty freshman Democratic lawmaker from Washington state’s 7th Congressional District who knows how to punch back.”

“Jayapal, a fast-rising Democratic star and determined critic of President Donald Trump, has assumed the mantle of a House ‘leader of the resistance’,” the report said. The list, according to Politico, highlights politicians, activists and operatives across the country who are poised to have a big year in 2018. From the “resistance” on the left, to the establishment and the Bannonite wing trying to remake the GOP, these are the people to watch over the next 12 months, Politico wrote.

Politico calls the Indian American Jayapal, D-Wash., a feisty freshman Democratic lawmaker who knows how to punch back. The publication cites an incident when California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa accused the India native Jayapal, who was raised in Indonesia and Singapore, of “naiveté” on the issue of immigration on the House floor. The congresswoman followed with this tweet, “Thank goodness we have so many men in Congress to mansplain our naiveté. Here’s to you, @DarrellIssa,” Politico noted

Issa wasn’t the lone culprit. GOP Rep. Don Young of Alaska during a House debate called the 52-year-old Jayapal a “young lady’’ who “doesn’t know a damn thing.” Jayapal responded on Twitter saying, “A message to women of color out there: stand strong. Refuse to be patronized or minimized,” Politico pointed out. In talking with Politico, Jayapal said, “I thought, ‘What century am I in, that people can actually say these things to me?’”

Determined to fight “a culture of diminishment around women in this Chamber,” Jayapal said her goal is to challenge colleagues “in a way that flies high … I try to be both gracious — and pointed,” the report said.

The Indian American’s story is well-known among the Indian community in the U.S. She came to the country at 16 on her own to study at Georgetown University. In 2001 she founded Hate Free Zone — later renamed OneAmerica — dedicated to advocacy work, including registering new immigrants to vote and lobbying for immigration reform. She later became the first South Asian American to be elected to the Washington state Legislature and then earned a spot in Congress in 2016.

“I knew I would have to succeed,’’ she told Politico Playbook. “My dad used all his money to get me here.” Politico said Jayapal has assumed the mantle of a House “leader of the resistance.” From her spot as first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, she has worked as “a relentless advocate of civil rights and immigration reform on Capitol Hill,” says her friend and fellow freshman House member, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the report said.

“She’s really positioned herself to be an essential player in the future of the Democratic Caucus in the House. With determination, steely drive and some well-placed tweets, Cruickshank said, Jayapal has “taken a deliberate approach to get there”.

Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman in the US House of Representatives. She travelled to the US from Chennai at the age of 16 to study at Georgetown University. Years later, as a new US citizen, Jayapal in 2001 founded Hate Free Zone — later renamed OneAmerica — dedicated to advocacy work including registering new immigrants to vote and lobbying for immigration reform.

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