House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admonished Democrats for personally attacking one another, warning in a closed-by meeting Wednesday that the party's fracturing was jeopardizing its majority.
Without names, it was clear: the four liberal freshman known as "the squad."
"You got a complaint? You can talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that is just okay, "Pelosi (D-Calif.) Customs Democrats.
But" the Squad "- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) And Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) – is convinced it is Pelosi who is being the bully.
The four are struggling with the speaker's moves to isolate them in recent weeks, according to interviews with the lawmakers, congressional aides and allies. Pelosi has made at least half-boxes remarks dismissing the group or their left-wing proposals on the environment and health care. More recently she scored her lonely opposition to the party's emergency border bill last month.
And she defended those comments Wednesday, saying, "I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not the case, "doubling down on her claim that the group has little power in the House.
" When these comments first started, I thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm's distance an order to protect more moderate members, which I understood, ”Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post. “But the persistent singling out. . . It was a point where it was just outright disrespectful. . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color. ”
The four women are trying to figure out how to respond, texting one another and weighing whether to confront Pelosi to ask her to stop. But for now, they are focused on their congressional duties, as well as defend their votes in the House that have drawn Pelosi's ire.
"Thank God my mother gave me broad shoulders and a strong back. I can handle it. I'm not worried about me, ”said Pressley, who called Pelosi's comments“ demoralizing. ”“ I am talking about the signal that it sends to people I speak to and for, who sent me with a mandate, and how it affects them. ”
The benefits under the political and generational divide between the most powerful woman in American politics, who has led House Democrats for more than 16 years, and the new band of liberals clamoring for change and trying to push the party left. . The four freshman lawmakers, by contrast, have built a massive online follow-up and delivered their power on the outside, including in the 2020 presidential race
Their ability to work together – or to – will have major implications for Democrats as they seek out President Trump and retain their majority in next year's election.
"A majority is a fragile thing," she said, according to two people present for the remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting, adding that members should show "some level of respect and sensitivity" to more moderate colleagues: "You make me the target, but don't do our [moderates] the target in all of this, because we have important fish to fry. "
The speaker's allies say about the next election is driving her moves to isolate these four women.
" Sometimes a leader's to take positions to keep the team [united]”Said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.). "19559017] Pelosi suggested to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in an opinion piece published Saturday that the so-called" Squad "had a limited following inside the House. She was pointed to the example of the House-passed Democratic border bill in late June, which the group opposed.
"But they didn't have any following. They're four people and that's how many votes they got. ”
Several in the caucus were comfortable with Pelosi's comments. Congressional Progressive Causes are expected to talk to Pelosi about her comments, according to two officials familiar with the plan.
“I can't tell the speaker to apologize, but I was taken aback by it. Because we're all here to work together, ”said Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), The first black woman to represent her state in Congress.
Notably, Hayes, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar appeared together with Pelosi smiling on the cover of Rolling Stone in a photo task in January.
While some of the four enjoy more diplomatic relationships with Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez's relationship with the speaker has been chilly from the start. After she upset Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) in the Democratic primary, Pelosi moved to immediately downplay her victory, saying it was a one-off event.
Still, Pelosi tried to create a bridge with the New Yorker: During their first face-to-face meeting just before the midterm elections, Pelosi spent nearly two hours trying to find the liberal that she was just here, tout here background. It was around that time that Ocasio-Cortez agreed to not only back Pelosi as speaker but also vocally defend against rebels trying to keep her from the gavel.
Now, half a year later, virtually all communication between the two women has ceased. The two have not ghosts one-on-one since February when Ocasio-Cortez declined Pelosi's personal request that she join here select committee on climate change, according to individuals who know both lawmakers.
Just days after, during a private Progressive Caucus meeting, Pelosi singled out Ocasio-Cortez in front of her colleagues, calling out for rejecting the select committee victim. Ocasio-Cortez had publicly criticized leadership for refusing to give the committee the power to directly draft legislation.
Since then, Pelosi has made several dismissive remarks about Ocasio-Cortez, calling here Green New Deal "the Green Dream or whatever," and suggesting that a glass of water running as a Democrat could win in districts as liberal as hers.
"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 punching if that's what they want me to be, "Ocasio-Cortez said. But now people are counting the freshman to talk to Pelosi. She doesn’t want to, however.
"There hasn't really been a relationship, to be frank," she said. “It's difficult.”
Omar, according to people close to her, has been similarly disappointed. The Minnesota lawmaker looks up to Pelosi and has enjoyed a positive relationship with the speaker, despite her criticisms of Israel that caused a major stir in the party. Even then, however, Pelosi gift Omar a heads-up before chiding her publicly.
In one of her first conversations with Pelosi after she won her primary, Omar told Pelosi that she could vote on the floor because of a headwear ban in the House. Pelosi promised to change the rules so she could wear her cap in the Capitol.
For Tlaib, Pelosi's latest comment was a mixed message – one that seemed to contradict the advice Pelosi gave in a meeting early in her tenure. "Represent your district," Tlaib recalled Pelosi counting here. "And that's exactly what I'm doing."
Hours after her primary win in August, Tlaib ruffled feathers by saying in a CNN interview that she would "probably not" support Pelosi for speaker. But Pelosi, directly and through intermediaries, worked through the months to keep her mind open, and Tlaib ultimately voted for here.
Then won a seat on the Financial Services Committee, a plum assignment for a freshman in a safe democratic district. And even as she garnered outsize media attention, Pelosi appeared to have her back: When Tlaib was filmed counting in crowd or supporters in vulgar terms that lawmakers would impeach President Trump, Pelosi delivered only faint public criticism. is not going to impact my work, ”Tlaib said of Pelosi's comments about the weekend. “I'm going to continue to introduce legislation and policy.” Yet some lawmakers and aides believe Pelosi's treatment of the group is having a quiet effect on them. Many activists thought the group would tie together to form a type of Freedom Caucus to deliver profits for the left, but they haven't done so and appear almost on the defensive when Pelosi criticizes them.
They also have not tried to whip votes against a major leadership priority such as the border bill, norcled house support for impeachment, an idea Pelosi rejects. And they have declined to call Pelosi out by name as well as liberal policy priorities such as Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal, dismissing them publicly as "enthusiasms" and "exuberances" rather than viable policy prescriptions.
“She chooses her words carefully. She does not misspeak, ”said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), A close friend of Pelosi. "There is a big difference between being an advocate and being a legislator."
Asked about why she hasn't confronted Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez said she wasn't sure what to do. little curious that leadership doesn't want us to have any sort of conversation about even messaging – but we're just freshmen, right? ”she said.