Verbal warfare erupted this week in the House of Representatives.
In an interview with Maureen Dowd of The New York Times published Sunday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized four socialist freshman members of the House, known as “the squad.”
The members, whose political tendencies are Marxist leaning, are New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
Dissention arose, as we said here Wednesday, because they voted against the Democrat-backed $4.6 billion humanitarian funding border supplement to help relieve the crisis on America’s Southern border with Mexico and to help immigrant children. They said it was throwing money at the Trump administration. Stressing the bill was a compromise, Ms. Pelosi said it was necessary to pass it before Congress recessed for the July 4th holiday.
Dismissing the quartet’s influence, Ms. Pelosi said: “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world … but they didn’t have any following,” she told Ms. Dowd. “They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got. They have a following in the public. I’m just talking in the Congress,” said Ms. Pelosi.
Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her criticism, “wasn’t dismissive. It was a statement of fact.” Referencing the squad’s vote against the supplement bill, Ms. Pelosi said, “Nobody followed their lead.”
Tuesday, interviewed on The New Yorker Radio House, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez accused Ms. Pelosi of racism — using women and minorities as chess pawns.
“When it comes to women of color in Congress, particularly the freshman, it’s that we both have encountered and represent communities that have been auctioned off and negotiated off for the last 20 years. And we’re over it.
“We see in these negotiations all the time … it’s like fighting for black communities or policies that help women,” she said. “They’re bargaining chips. And they’re the first chips that are reached for in any legislative negotiations.
“We don’t know how to talk about our own issues in ways that I think are convincing … we’re too often on the defense. We’re too often afraid of our own values and sticking up for them. And I feel like we run away from our convictions too much,” she said.
“The rules of Congress have changed over the years to put, I think, an insane amount of power in a handful of people … within even just the House of Representatives itself. The speaker, leadership, committee chairs … over the years the rules have changed to kind of consolidate power to a very large degree.”
Wednesday, meting with her caucus, Ms. Pelosi insisted on party unity and urged members not to tweet criticism of each other or her.
Asked whether she had regrets about criticizing the four freshman, she replied, “I do not. No. I have no regrets about anything. Regrets are not what I do.”
And Wednesday, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:
“A glass of water could’ve (beat a 20yr incumbt)
“The Green Dream or whatever
“Their public whatever
“Those aren’t quotes from me; they’re from the Speaker. Having respect for ourselves doesn’t mean we lack respect for her.
“It means we won’t let everyday people be dismissed.”
Doubling down on her charge of racism from Ms. Pelosi, she told The Washington Post Wednesday, “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. 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.”
Thursday, Ms. Pelosi acknowledged that because “they took offense,” she addressed “at the request of my members” an “offensive tweet that came out of one of the member’s offices that referenced our Blue Dogs and new Southern Democrats essentially as segregationists.
“I’ve said what I’m going to say … What I said in the caucus yesterday had an overwhelming response from my members. Because they know what the facts or less are and what we are responding to. We respect the value of every member of our caucus. The diversity of it all is a wonderful thing. Diversity is our strength. Unity is our power.”
However, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s use of the liberal race card verifies the arguments are volatile internecine warfare.