July 12, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) laid down the law to House Democrats on July 10. The elder statesperson and party leader said that in-fighting among caucus members could not be countenanced—either on Twitter or in media interviews—because it would jeopardize their majority vote.
Without naming names, her target was clear: the four liberal freshmen known as “The Squad,” The Washington Post reported.
“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 okay,” Pelosi told Democrats.
But “The Squad”—Representatives. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York.), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts)—said she was speaking from a bully pulpit and that they didn’t appreciate her tactics of intimidation.
According to the news outlet, Pelosi has made at least half a dozen remarks dismissing the group or their far-left proposals on the environment and health care. More recently she scorned their lonely opposition to the party’s emergency border bill last month.
And, the Post reported, she defended those comments Wednesday, saying, “I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do,” doubling down on her claim that the group has little power in the House.
“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 told The Washington Post. “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.”
The four women are trying to figure out how to respond, texting one another and weighing whether to confront Pelosi to ask her to stop. But for now, they are focused on their congressional duties, even as they defend their votes in the House that have drawn Pelosi’s ire.
“Thank God my mother gave me broad shoulders and a strong back. I can handle it. I’m not worried about me,” said Pressley, who called Pelosi’s comments “demoralizing.” “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.”
However, their ability to work together—or refusal to—will have major implications for Democrats as they seek to oust President Trump and retain their majority in next year’s election.
“A majority is a fragile thing,” Pelosi said, according to two people present for the remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting, adding that members should show “some level of respect and sensitivity” to more moderate colleagues: “You make me the target, but don’t make our [moderates] the target in all of this, because we have important fish to fry.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost