Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday sided with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her fellow progressive freshman congresswomen amid an ongoing spat over tactics and policy with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Asked during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether Pelosi was being too tough on the freshman New York congresswoman, Sanders said, “I think a little bit.”
The intraparty fight spilled into the open when, in an interview with The New York Times, Pelosi dismissed the power of Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow progressive freshmen in the House: Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.). The four lawmakers had opposed a House funding bill aiming to address the migrant crisis at the border because it didn’t provide sufficient restrictions on how the Trump administration could spend the money. They also vocally protested when the House later passed a weaker Senate version with even fewer restrictions after moderates in the lower chamber signaled their support for the bill.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi said when asked about the freshman congresswomen, who have a large following online.
Ocasio-Cortez responded by calling Pelosi’s “singling out” of Democratic women of color “disrespectful.”
The spat continued late Friday night, after the official Twitter account for House Democrats ― managed by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a member of party leadership — fired off a critical tweet about Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff. House Democrats were reportedly incensed when the aide, Saikat Chakrabarti, compared current moderate Democrats to the Southern Democrats who enabled segregationist policies in the 1940s.
During his interview on Sunday, Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, seemed to echo concerns about Pelosi singling out the four women.
“You cannot ignore the young people of this country who are passionate about economic and racial and social and environmental justice. You gotta bring them in, not alienate them,” he said.
The discord among Democrats may end up being short-lived. President Donald Trump’s racist tweet Sunday morning telling the four Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to their native countries — when all are U.S. citizens, and only one was born abroad — will likely only unify the House Democratic Caucus.