Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) accused House speaker Nancy Pelosi of “singling out” progressive women of color Wednesday, deepening the rift that has emerged between the caucus’s young firebrands and leadership.
“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 in an interview published Wednesday. “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 comments came after Pelosi, during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, urged her caucus to project unity and stop airing internal divisions in public.
Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday that she doesn’t believe Pelosi harbors any racial animus but argued that the speaker has established a pattern of attacking young women of color.
“It’s really just pointing out the pattern, right? We’re not talking about just progressives, it’s signaling out four individuals,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. “And knowing the media environment that we’re operating in, knowing the amount of death threats that we get, knowing the amount of concentrated attention, I think it’s just worth asking why.”
While she did not explicitly name them, Pelosi seemed to criticize Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, during a Saturday New York Times interview over their opposition to a supplemental border-spending package designed to alleviate the ongoing migrant-detention crisis.
“All of these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi told the Times. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi said.
Ocasio-Cortez fired back on Twitter, saying, “That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment.”
Pelosi stood by her comments on Wednesday, telling reporters that she was simply describing how many votes were cast against the spending bill, and adding that she doesn’t regret the statement.