The ongoing feud between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to escalate and it is forcing many, including President Trump, to take sides. Trump surprisingly recently took to Twitter to defend the Speaker.
However, the left wing of her own party was not as kind. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, suggested last week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hurt the progressive cause when she downplayed the influence of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other freshman lawmakers.
Pelosi told The New York Times last week that Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., “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.”
“I don’t think those comments were helpful to a broader picture of how we build progressive power in the House and what it looks like relative to overall Democratic power,” Jayapal said, according to left-leaning news outlet the HuffPost.
Jayapal made the remarks while appearing at Netroots Nation, an annual gathering that features panels and training for activists. The Wall Street Journal reported that Pelosi’s name was booed when mentioned during the panel discussion that included Jayapal. But in spite of her knock on Pelosi, Jayapal also reportedly defended the Speaker as a “master strategist” even as some took issue with her decision to marshal a GOP-backed border funding package through the House.
Border Bill Was at the Root of the Feud
It was that immigration Bill that seems to be what sparked the feud as Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley — a group known as the “squad” — all voted against the measure despite being vastly outnumbered by members of their own caucus.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. was among those on Friday’s panel who pushed back on Pelosi’s decision to take up border funding from his chamber. The House “failed” “to carry its weight to restore the values of America,” Merkely reportedly said.
Many Democrats in the Senate had approved the GOP-backed border funding bill under the assumption that Pelosi would force it into a conference committee by passing Democrats’ own version. “We lost all the leverage that the progressives like Rep. Jayapal had worked so hard to get. It just went down the tube,” Merkely said.
But according to Jayapal, the Senate created an untenable situation for the House by approving funding on a bipartisan basis. “We cannot have the Senate passing these big bipartisan votes because it affects what happens in the House,” she reportedly said.
Jayapal also defended Speaker Pelosi by emphasizing the importance of votes. “In the end, the power of how many votes you can garnish for whatever position you’re pushing for is what is really important,” she said.
The Washington congresswoman and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., have reportedly requested a meeting to discuss with Pelosi the relationship between the Democratic Caucus and more progressive members of the party.
But that did not stop AOC from throwing more fuel on the fire, by telling The Washington Post that the “persistent singling out” by the speaker was “outright disrespectful” and affected “newly elected women of color.” That in turn prompted a scathing rebuke by Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who accused Ocasio-Cortez of playing “the race card,” a charge Ocasio-Cortez denied on Friday.
“Now I have said publicly,” Jayapal remarked that same day, “I don’t typically find Pelosi to be someone who disrespects members. I’ve never felt disrespected as a woman of color by Nancy Pelosi.”
Jayapal previously said, however, that she could relate to Ocasio-Cortez’s concerns.
“It’s just a constant thing we deal with as women of color. It’s always harder when it’s perceived as coming from your own side, whether that was how it was intended or not,” she said earlier this week. She also suggested Pelosi wasn’t used to a group like “the squad” having bigger Twitter followings than her.