Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday that she is fed up with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's attacks on progressive members of the Democratic caucus, particularly freshman women of color who have been pushing the party to stand up for immigrants against President Donald Trump's deportation force.
"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.
"When we approve $5 billion to agencies that are killing kids and I represent a district that is 50 percent immigrants, my families and communities feel attacked and I have a responsibility to stand up for them."
—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
"But the persistent singling out," said Ocasio Cortez, "got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful... the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color."
Ocasio-Cortez's remarks came shortly after Pelosi intensified her feud with the group of progressives known as "the Squad"—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
During a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting on Wednesday, Pelosi reportedly looked directly at Ocasio-Cortez and said, "Every time I'm attacked, I raise more money."
The Intercept reported that Pelosi's line drew "huge applause" from members in attendance at the meeting, during which the Speaker chided progressives for criticizing her and other Democrats on Twitter.
"So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it," said Pelosi. "But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just ok."
Critics were quick to point out that Pelosi has operated by a rather different standard than the one she is holding her members to.
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In an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published online Saturday, Pelosi disparaged Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Omar, and Pressley as a mere "four people" who don't "have any following."
Let me get this straight. Tweeting about party leadership is bad, but the House Speaker condescending to four prominent new members, all women of color, and their public following over brunch with Maureen Dowd and having that published is perfectly cool? https://t.co/tONFPt2XVm
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) July 11, 2019
Pelosi's comments to the Times came in response to continued progressive outrage over her decision to cave to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and pass a $4.6 billion border funding bill without any safeguards for immigrant children.
Ocasio-Cortez told reporters Wednesday that "it's unfortunate, you know, what gets interpreted as an attack."
"When we approve $5 billion to agencies that are killing kids and I represent a district that is 50 percent immigrants," said the New York Democrat, "my families and communities feel attacked and I have a responsibility to stand up for them, and I think that it would be hypocritical for me to remain silent on injustices just because those injustices may come from our side of the aisle."
Pressley also spoke out about the ongoing conflict with Pelosi, who claimed Wednesday that progressives are putting the House majority at risk by attacking so-called moderate Democrats.
"Thank God my mother gave me broad shoulders and a strong back. I can handle it. I'm not worried about me," Pressley told the Washington Post. "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."