Simmering tensions among high-profile House Democrats boiled over Wednesday as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York turned her fury on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi has sent dismissive remarks the freshman firebrand’s way for months. In February she referred to the Green New Deal developed by Ocasio-Cortez as “the green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” according to CNN.
Pelosi recently downplayed the significance of Ocasio-Cortez and three progressive allies — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — who opposed a package of humanitarian aid for the border, Fox News reported.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi said in an interview with The New York Times.
Ocasio-Cortez fired back Wednesday in an interview with The Washington Post.
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“But the persistent singling out. … it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful … the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color,” she said in reference to the four freshman female legislators who refer to themselves as “the Squad.”
“The third and fourth time [she insulted me], it was like, ‘This is unnecessary, but I’m not going to pick a fight over it. Whatever, I’ll be the punching bag if that’s what they want me to be,’ ” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Although she told The Post she is being urged to end the weeks that have passed with no direct communication between her and Pelosi, she does not plan to do so.
“There hasn’t really been a relationship, to be frank,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s difficult.”
She said she does not understand why her expertise is not consulted.
“I do find it a little curious that leadership doesn’t want us to try to have any sort of conversation about even messaging — but we’re just freshmen, right?” she said.
Comments on Twitter captured the deep divide.
Dear @AOC: @SpeakerPelosi isn’t singling you out because you are “a person of color.” She’s doing so because 4 new Members are single handedly putting the D majority at risk by being divisive and out of touch w/most of America. Put your race cards away. https://t.co/01DMKjxxRE
— Ron Christie (@Ron_Christie) July 11, 2019
Pelosi attacks them as they work to free migrants from concentration camps, expose the abuse of children, and hold government officials accountable for corruption.
Question why Pelosi is so obsessed with stopping their work on those causes. Whom does that benefit? https://t.co/SCbcjuSCzL
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) July 11, 2019
Pressley said Pelosi’s comments were “demoralizing.”
“Thank God my mother gave me broad shoulders and a strong back. I can handle it. I’m not worried about me,” she said. “I am worried about the signal that it sends to people I speak to and for, who sent me here with a mandate, and how it affects them.”
On Wednesday, as Ocasio-Cortez was attacking, Pelosi was preaching a different message to House Democrats, warning them not to attack each other.
“You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK,” Pelosi said.
In its reporting on the rift, The Post called it “the political and generational divide between the most powerful woman in American politics, who has led House Democrats for more than 16 years, and the new band of liberals clamoring for change and trying to push the party left.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.