The Samosa Caucus in the 2020 Election

I was scrolling through the Instagram “Explore” page when I discovered an infographic about different candidates running in the 2020 election. I thought it was interesting, so I clicked on the account and started looking through its posts until I found out about the Samosa Caucus. 

What is a caucus? 

Before talking about the Samosa Caucus, I think it’s important to know what a caucus exactly “is” — because quite frankly, I did not fully understand until I searched it up. The US Senate defines “caucus” as an informal gathering or organization of members of the US Congress (either the Senate or the House, or both). They exist to discuss common concerns and (possibly) conduct legislative research and policy planning. 

What is the Samosa Caucus

Now knowing the definition, I think explaining what the Samosa Caucus is will be a lot easier. It is essentially a group of Indian-American lawmakers who are a part of either the House of Representatives or the Senate. There are currently five Democrats in the caucus, all of whom won their re-election campaign in the recent election. Four out of the five are in the House: Raja Krishnamoorthi (third term) from Illinois, Ami Bera (fifth term) from California, Ro Khanna (third term) from California, and Pramila Jayapal (third term) from Washington state. The fifth member is Kamala Harris, who was a senator for California, but is now the US Vice President-elect! The representative from Illinois, Krishnamoorthi, was actually the one who coined the term “Samosa Caucus” for this fantastic group of Indian-American Congress members. 

There are a few other Indian-Americans in Congress, but they are just not a part of this caucus.

Who are the people in the caucus

Raja Krishnamoorthi: He is a businessman and a politician who represents the 8th congressional district in Illinois and has been doing so since 2017. He is focused on supporting small businesses, rebuilding current infrastructure, protecting Medicare and Social Security, working on the affordability of higher education, and expanding and protecting workers’ rights. 

Ami Bera: He is a physician and politician who represents the 7th congressional district in California and has been doing so since 2013 — which means he is the longest-serving Indian-American in Congress. Bera is currently serving on various committees; he is the chairman of the subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and he is also vice-chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. 

Ro Khanna: He is a politician, lawyer, and academic who represents the 17th congressional district in California (the heart of Silicon Valley) since 2017. Before his time serving in the House of Representatives, Khanna taught economics at Stanford University, law at Santa Clara University, and American jurisprudence at San Francisco State University. Along with this, he served as the deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Commerce during the Obama administration. Currently, Khanna is focusing his efforts on ensuring that the technology sector is at the forefront of US economic policies in the hopes of creating more jobs and furthering economic growth. 

Pramila Jayapal: She is a politician who represents the 7th congressional district of Washington and has been doing as such since 2017. Her district includes much of Seattle and suburban portions of King County. Since her election, she has been fighting against the Trump administration’s policies of separating children from their parents. Jayapal has aided in crafting legislation in order to expand legal immigration to the United States. In addition to this, she deals with income inequality, education, clean energy, and healthcare. 

Kamala Harris: She is a politician and attorney who is currently the US Vice President-elect. She is the first Asian (as her mother is from India) and Black (as her father is from Jamaica) woman to hold the Vice Presidency. She began as a District Attorney and soon moved up to serving as California’s Attorney General, then she ran and was elected into the Senate, and now she will become the VP!

What does this mean for Indian-Americans? 

I know that after learning more about this caucus, I felt represented, proud, and hopeful. While it is amazing to have someone in a high seat of power representing the same ideas as you, it’s a whole ‘nother (wondrous) feeling to see someone who “looks” like you, comes from a similar background, and shares the same morals and values as you. The voter turnout in this election was unprecedented, not only for America in general but also for the Indian American community, and the number of Indian-Americans running for election was also much higher than seen previously — which is why I believe that the future looks good for Indian-Americans!