Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley made history last year. Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez both beat seemingly unbeatable establishment incumbents. All four are under the age of 45 and were endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of American. All four are people of color.
The four freshman, apparently known in Congress as “the Squad,” have energized the Democratic base with their strident leftist policies and opposition to the Trump administration. But that hasn’t endeared them to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose attacks against the Congresswomen have grown stronger in recent weeks.
Now, the Squad is officially fed up, according to 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 told the 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.”
“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 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 affect them.”
Pelosi has not backed down. After brushing off the influence of the freshman legislators earlier this week, the speaker says she has no regrets.
“I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do,” Pelosi told the Post.
In a closed-door meeting, sources tell the Post that Pelosi emphasized the need for House Democrats to work together.
“A majority is a fragile thing,” Pelosi reportedly said. She added that the lawmakers should show “some level of respect and sensitivity” to their 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,” she reportedly added.
One of the inciting incidents in Pelosi’s recent rampage seems to be the resistance from “the Squad” to the emergency border funding bill passed by the House last month. Pelosi had originally proposed a version of the bill that included an amendment requiring more stringent oversight of child detention facilities where migrants have been kept in appalling conditions.
Pelosi ended up trashing the amendment and convincing Democrats to vote for the Senate-approved version of the bill instead, with no new protections for migrant children. All four of the freshman Democrats she’s targeted voted against it.
Some in Congress agree that Pelosi’s antipathy towards the Congresswomen has been out of line.
“I can’t tell the speaker to apologize, but I was taken aback by [her comments]. Because we’re all here to work together,” Rep. Jahana Hayes told the Post.
Sources tell the Post that the whole “working together” thing isn’t going so well. AOC has apparently not met personally with Pelosi since February, when Ocasio-Cortez rejected Pelosi’s offer to be part of a special climate committee.
Since then, Pelosi has repeatedly taken jabs at Ocasio-Cortez, once saying that a “glass of water” could have won in her progressive district.
“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 told the Post.
“There hasn’t really been a relationship, to be frank,” she added. “It’s difficult.”