House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday stood by her comments that downplayed the power of four high-profile freshman women in the House, increasing the tension between the congressional leader and her colleagues.
“I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do,” Pelosi told reporters about her Sunday remarks about the so-called “Squad” ― a group of progressives that includes Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.).
The comments came after Pelosi left a closed-door meeting Wednesday in which she reportedly warned the Democratic left, specifically Capitol Hill staffers, to keep their criticism of more moderate colleagues in the party to themselves. According to two attendees at the meeting who spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, Pelosi’s remarks appeared to at least partially be a jab at Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarty, who recently urged his fellow Twitter followers to support a primary challenger to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and tweeted, “Pelosi is just mad that she got outmaneuvered (again) by Republicans.”
“You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it,” Pelosi reportedly said in the meeting, according to the Post. “But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK.”
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she told Dowd of the first-year congresswomen, some of whom she was happy to pose with on the January cover of Rolling Stone. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”
Ninety-five House Democrats, including the four women, voted against the Senate version of the immigration bill, which increased funding to deal with conditions at the border but lacked humanitarian guarantees for detained migrants, specifically children. Pelosi chose not to amend the bill before it passed, leading to sharp criticism from some Democrats, including the “Squad.”
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that [Pelosi] 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 later that 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.”
Pressley told the Post that the speaker’s comments were “demoralizing.”
“Thank God my mother gave me broad shoulders and a strong back. I can handle it. I’m not worried about me,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “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 affects them.”