Friday, Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) kicked off the start of the 113th Congress by announcing Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-MN) appointment to a deputy leadership position in the Democratic caucus.
As a newly minted Chief Deputy Whip, Ellison joins 9 other leading congressmembers in being the eyes, ears, and hands of Hoyer and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“I am excited to work with Whip Hoyer and the rest of the Whip team to continue the fight for good jobs for working families," Ellison said in a written statement. "It is more important than ever that we work together to protect the benefits middle class families rely on.”
Whips are typically charged with keeping party members onside and enforcing discipline during contentious votes. However, they are not typically issued funny red hats or black turtlenecks.
Ellison Joins Housing Rights Bus Tour
Saturday, Ellison led an anti-foreclosure rally at Southwest Minneapolis' Shir Tikvah synagogue. T aimed at highlighting the plight of Golden Valley homeowner and community leader Rose McGee. McGee's lenders, activists say, unfairly started foreclosure proceedings against her while continuing to work with her on a loan modification.
“It’s massive, it’s massive. It affects not just peoples’ direct homes, but it affects people who have not been in foreclosure because it lowers your housing prices if you own a home and have never missed a payment,” Ellison told WCCO.
The tour finished with a concert by prominent Minneapolis hip-hop artists.
Calls for Pastor's Release
Friday, Ellison called for the release of an Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death in his home country for refusing to renounce his faith.
Youcef Nadarkhani was released in September but re-arrested on Christmas Day.
“We were heartbroken to learn that the government of Iran has thrown Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani back in jail. Given its persecution of Pastor Youcef because of his Christian faith, it was particularly cruel to imprison him on Christmas Day," Ellison and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) said in a joint statement. “The continued imprisonment of Pastor Youcef for simply practicing his faith is a gross violation of human rights. He should be released to his wife and two young sons immediately.”
Three New Principles For Deficit Reduction
In the wake of last week's vote to postpone the Fiscal Cliff, Ellison
Wednesday, Ellison called for cuts to the Pentagon budget, protections for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending, and "new revenue" in a blog post on The Huffington Post. Ellison also chided Republicans for "hostage-taking" during last year's debt ceiling debate.