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Leading progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., had a choice after they won election in 2018 and expanded their ranks in 2020: challenge Democratic leaders from the sidelines, or get in the game.

Now their decision to play by Congress’ rules is giving them clout in a government under unified Democratic control with President Joe Biden.

Members of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s so-called Squad are taking leadership roles in the House and building experience on Capitol Hill, turning them into not just ideological purists but also strategic legislators. They’re gently pushing a bolder Democratic strategy and meeting regularly with White House aides, bringing liberal dreams like a $15 federal minimum wage and a permanent child tax credit within reach.

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