Heard on the Hill

Get to know these new congressional caucuses

Agritourism not your bag? Try the Air Cargo Caucus!

Let’s hear it for the Agritourism Caucus! Virginia Rep. Jennifer Wexton hopes it will spur more visits to places like wineries in her district. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There are dozens of caucuses in Congress. Here’s a roundup of a few new ones formed this year.

Agritourism Caucus

Money generated by vineyards, orchards, breweries, distilleries and farm markets totaled $949 million in 2017, according to Virginia Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who formed this caucus to “strengthen the agritourism industry” and “highlight the positive impacts they have.” Wexton recently touted on Twitter a visit to a winery and farm in her suburban D.C. district. North Carolina Republican David Rouzer serves as caucus co-chair. 

Air Cargo Caucus

The 35-member caucus was formed by Democrat Cheri Bustos, whose northwest Illinois district includes the Chicago Rockford International Airport. “This caucus will create a platform for our region’s leaders to share best practices and connect with folks from across America,” Bustos said in a statement. Michigan Republican Paul Mitchell is co-chair.

Anti-Socialism Caucus

When he announced the launch of the caucus in February, Rep. Chris Stewart said it was “alarming” that socialism was becoming the “preferred alternative to capitalism among America’s youth.” The Utah Republican reasoned that youngsters were “unaware of the bleak realities of socialism,” citing Cuba and the Soviet Union, two communist countries, as examples.

Black-Jewish Relations Caucus

The brainchild of Michigan Democrat Brenda Lawrence, this caucus was formed to strengthen a historic bond that has frayed in recent years. Its goal is to fight the rise in white nationalism and features an intriguing mix of people, including Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar and New York Republican Lee Zeldin, who have feuded this year over the former’s comments on Israel.

For Country Caucus

This bipartisan group was formed with the goal of getting more members of the military to serve in Congress — there were 96 members with military experience at the start of this session. “We are people that have put our lives on the line for this country, been willing to die for this country since Day One,” Florida Republican Michael Waltz, a vice-chair, told Fox News earlier this year. “We’d be more than willing to take tough votes for this country even if it means some kind of political blowback.”

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