Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday rebuked what she termed a “splinter group” of fellow House Democrats for voting to tack on a divisive amendment to a historic gun control bill that passed the Democratic-controlled House last week.
The bill, described as the most significant piece of U.S. gun control legislation in over two decades, would require background checks on all gun sales in the U.S. It cleared the House on a 240-190 vote on Wednesday — but the road to its approval was not without bumps.
One such hurdle was a controversial amendment to the bill, introduced at the last minute by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), that would require the FBI to alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when undocumented immigrants attempt to purchase a gun. Twenty-six Democrats supported the provision, which was added to the bill. Twenty-two of those Democrats represent districts held by Republicans before the 2018 elections, ThinkProgress noted.
Ocasio-Cortez backed the final bill, but the freshman lawmaker from New York said on Twitter she was “upset” at the “splinter group of Dems” who’d voted to include the ICE provision, which she referred to as a “gotcha amendment.”
“ICE is a dangerous agency with 0 accountability, widespread reporting of rape, abuse of power [and] children dying in DHS custody,” she wrote. “Having a D next to your name doesn’t make that right.”
Ocasio-Cortez stressed, however, that she had not threatened to target the Democrats who supported the ICE provision by pushing for primary challenges to them in 2020 ― contrary to a Friday Washington Post report that suggested she had.
According to the Post, which cited people who’d been present at a closed-door meeting of Huse Democrats on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez had said some of her colleagues “could find themselves ‘on a list’ of primary election targets” because of their vote.
“Being unified means ensuring that Democrats aren’t primary-ing other sitting Democrats,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) told the paper. “Since when is it okay to put you on a Nixonian list? We need to have a big tent in our party or we won’t keep the House or win the White House.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she “didn’t threaten a primary.”
“What I DID say was that I had to go back to my district ... [and] explain why a pro-ICE amendment was slipped into a gun safety law,” she tweeted.
The lawmaker added that it was “fine” for Democrats to have “ideological differences,” but she decried the “tactics” that had allowed “a small group” to force other Democrats “into actions that the majority disagree with. I don’t think that’s right, and said as much in a closed door meeting.”