Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a member of the "Gallery Group," hugs fellow House members in July following a meeting of the Jan. 6 Select Committee. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images
One member will kick off a yearlong democracy initiative this week. One is introducing a bill commemorating Jan. 6 as "Democracy Day." Several are coordinating plans to deliver "gratitude food" to Capitol Police officers who risked their lives to protect them.
The big picture: The "Gallery Group" — about 20 House Democrats who formed an impromptu support group via text-chain after huddling together in the House Gallery during the insurrection — has turned its near-daily communications since then into a diverse friendship circle with a call to action.
- The group "shows the best of what Congress can be, and really helped me process the trauma we all went through and develop lifelong friendships," one member, Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), told Axios.
- She'd been in Congress for four days when the attack took place.
What we're watching: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a decorated Army Ranger, to lead a members' testimonial as part of Thursday's official commemoration.
- Crow tells Axios he's also "launching an initiative to reaffirm democracy and make 2022 a year of democracy in action."
- It will kick off on Tuesday with a virtual roundtable about democracy efforts in his district. Other members could follow. Crow said he wants to highlight "people around the country taking concrete action to reaffirm their commitment to democracy.”
Meanwhile, another member of the group, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), said he's introducing a bill to designate Jan. 6 as "Democracy Day," and that other members are considering additional measures.
- The House isn't fully back in session until Jan. 10, but several "Gallery Group" members who will be in D.C. this week are planning in-person events, including dinners at one another's homes.
- They're also planning food delivery to Capitol Police officers.
- They want to show their appreciation and support for a force that's grappled over the past year with its own traumas, deaths, suicides, internal divisions, a leadership shakeup and departures.
Flashback: Our friend and Axios alum Kadia Goba first reported on the "Gallery Group" last April.
- By then, it already was morphing from support group to friend group that bridged ideological, demographic and geographic divides inside the caucus.
- Some of the other members include Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), as well as Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.); Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.),and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).
The bottom line: “This group of us who were caught that day, we have become extremely close friends," Crow said. "We have this text-chat group that is really almost constant at this point, and a pretty regular part of our daily lives.
- "We share our successes, our failures, our challenges, our personal news — when we have children or grandchildren or sicknesses in our family. We get together for potlucks," he added.
- "We obviously will continue to be together and support each other and be there for each other as we always have."
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