She is not as flashy as the “Squad.” She does not dominate social media. But it turns out Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is a tenacious, effective dealmaker. Throughout a week in which the media often portrayed the centrist Senate holdouts as more reasonable, she again and again held firm to the deal the White House wanted — passage of both a hard infrastructure bill and a human infrastructure bill, which contain a host of progressive priorities (e.g., subsidized child care, paid sick leave, free community college).

Throughout the week, Jayapal maintained her position that there would be no vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill so long as there was no sign of agreement on the reconciliation package. Moreover, she made clear this was not some extreme lark. She and her fellow progressives intended to fight for the heart of President Biden’s agenda:

Defusing the image that centrists were the victims of progressives’ obstruction, she made crystal clear centrist objectors had not even put a hard number on the table. Her manner was forceful, composed and determined.

The Post reported: “Jayapal said she was prepared for this moment by her mentor, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who taught the former activist that if she wants to achieve anything in Congress she has to know what she is willing to give up. Lee also impressed upon Jayapal that being clear with leadership on where she stands and not surprising them late in the game is also key if she wanted to be a legislator and not a bombthrower.” Jayapal kept in constant conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, a clue that progressives were not the “bad guys,” but rather the people who could eventually push through a deal.

While Jayapal stood firm on requiring a vote for a reconciliation package before passing the hard infrastructure bill, she demonstrated flexibility as the negotiations spilled into Friday. “If there’s something else that’s short of a vote … that gives me those same assurances, I want to listen to that,” she said.

At her Thursday news conference, Pelosi left no distance between herself and the progressive caucus. “I just told members of my leadership that the reconciliation bill was a culmination of my service in Congress, because it was about the children, the children, the children, the children. … It’s about health, their education, the economic security of their families, a clean, safe environment in which they could thrive, and it [gives them] a world at peace in which they could succeed.” She added, “So, remove all doubt in anyone’s mind that we will not have a reconciliation. We will have a reconciliation bill. That is for sure.”

For showing how progressives can make big gains when they effectively engage with centrists and for establishing herself as a legislative dealmaker, we can say, well done, Congresswoman Jayapal.