The Hill Notable Staffers 2023

Keane Bhatt: Policy director, Congressional Progressive Caucus

Keane Bhatt is responsible for wrangling the policy priorities of the largest Democratic caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“I see my role as coordinating between a lot of really active offices who may not necessarily have that kind of connective tissue to work as a group,” he said.

Bhatt, who grew up in Hawaii and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, initially set out to be a jazz guitarist, but got pulled into politics through activism opposing the Iraq war.

His tenure with the caucus – interrupted while serving as a communications director and policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) – has come as its ranks have swollen in recent years.

“You have a deeper repository and a wider breadth of issues that people feel passionately about and that you can pull from,” he said on the growing roster.

“And the challenge is with a caucus that big how you can ensure a real common culture and camaraderie and how to move a 100-plus member caucus more or less in the same direction,” he said, as well as “a commitment to the progressive ideals that we’re trying to advance though the federal policy space.

Bhatt sees the caucus’s role as one that can be a force within the party as well as a foil to Republican leadership.

That includes an “executive action slate” aimed at getting President Biden to tackle some priorities unlikely to be addressed in Congress, a key effort “in this moment of divided government.”

“Those are all spaces in which the administration can and should act without legislative work. The other piece of it is…being really outspoken in developing the message of opposition on some of the kinds of policies that the extreme wing of the Republican Party is achieving,” he said.

“Progressives tend to be at the tip of the spear on a lot of these things.” 

 

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