Jewish lawmaker leaves Progressive Caucus over Israel rift
Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) left the Congressional Progressive Caucus due to stark disagreements with other members of the group on the Israel-Hamas war, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: Frankel's departure underscores a growing divide among Democratic lawmakers over the conflict in Gaza as many progressives break with their party's initial firm support of Israel.
What we're hearing: Frankel's office confirmed to Axios that she has left the Progressive Caucus, a group of nearly 100 of the more left-leaning Democrats in Congress.
- Frankel left due to how some members of the group were responding to the situation in Israel, a source told Axios.
- Progressives have generally been more sympathetic to the Palestinians than their more moderate colleagues, with some members of the left-wing "Squad" drawing criticism for their initial statements on the Oct. 7 attack.
- Frankel's departure was first reported by The Intercept.
A spokesperson for the Progressive Caucus did not respond to requests for comment.
The backdrop: Frankel, who is Jewish and has long been a staunch supporter of Israel, has taken a raft of pro-Israel votes in recent weeks that put her at odds with Progressive Caucus members.
- She was among the 22 Democrats who voted with Republicans to censure progressive Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for her strident criticism of Israel.
- Frankel was also one of a dozen Democrats, and just three Progressive Caucus members, who voted for a $14.3 billion military aid package to Israel that even many moderate, pro-Israel Democrats opposed due to its corresponding cuts to IRS funding.
- Outside of Israel, Frankel has a very progressive voting record: She has a 96% rating from left-leaning group ProgressivePunch.
Zoom in: On the progressive side, calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war – the key demand of left-wing groups that have put enormous pressure on Democratic lawmakers – are gradually ticking up.
- On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) became the second Senate Democrat to advocate for a ceasefire, joining dozens of House Democrats in doing so.
- A deal between Israel and Hamas to declare a multi-day ceasefire and free dozens of hostages could be announced as soon as Tuesday, Axios' Barak Ravid reported.