Ocasio-Cortez Downplays Tensions Between Pelosi and ‘The Squad’

WASHINGTON (The Washington Post) —

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview broadcast Wednesday downplayed tensions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying there is not a “fundamental fracture” between the Democratic leader and the four liberal lawmakers known as “the Squad.”

The comments by Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., were recorded Tuesday as the Democratic-led House voted to condemn President Trump for racist tweets about the four minority congresswomen that were widely seen as an attempt to exploit their divisions with Pelosi.

“Just as there were members of Congress that did not vote for the Speaker on the House floor the day of our swearing in, just as there were members who challenge her conclusions, who disagree with her, so do we from time to time, but that does not mean that there is a fundamental fracture or a dehumanizing going on within our caucus,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the interview on CBS.

She was interviewed jointly with freshman Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the other liberal, minority Democrats that are known as “the squad.”

Omar also said, “I don’t feel a fracture.”

In an interview this month with the New York Times, Pelosi said that the four “didn’t have any following,” citing their lonely votes in late June against a Democratic-crafted bill to address the southern border crisis. She has also made other remarks dismissing the group and their far-left proposals on the environment and health care.

In an interview earlier this month with The Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez voiced frustration with Pelosi.

“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 said at the time. “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.”

During the interview with CBS, Ocasio-Cortez said she wanted to “clarify” her comments.

“I did not say she was disrespectful of women of color,” Ocasio-Cortez said of Pelosi. “I found some of the comments disrespectful, and that was my personal opinion. And I did feel that singling out on the basis of one vote was creating an opening. But that doesn’t mean that we fundamentally disagree or fundamentally disrespect each other’s position and power and ability to be here, and that’s what makes us united as a caucus.”

In the wake of Trump’s tweets on Sunday suggesting the four lawmakers should “go back” to their ancestral countries, Democrats have rallied around them and strongly condemned Trump. Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.

All Democrats in the chamber voted Tuesday for the resolution condemning Trump’s tweets. They were joined by four Republicans and one independent.

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