Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi came out swinging in an interview with The New York Times but her main target on that day wasn’t Donald Trump.
In a wide-ranging exchange with reporter Maureen Dowd, Pelosi still sees the President as enemy number one, but she seems to be growing less and less patient with the “new progressives” in her own party.
Freshman Congresswomen like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have been a thorn in her side in claiming she “capitulated to Republicans and Democratic moderates” over a border funding bill.
Congress forwarded a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package last Thursday but it didn’t happen without a striking display of in fighting within the Democratic party.
The final vote of 305 to 102 included far more Republicans in favor than Democrats. However, 129 Democrats followed Pelosi’s “compromise” and several members of Pelosi’s party were incensed.
The vote showed Pelosi’s party is divided at the highest levels. Senior House Democrats like Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, House Whip James E. Clyburn, and campaign chief Cheri Bustos sided with Pelosi in voting “yes” to the bill.
A younger second tier of Democrat leaders like Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, and Caucus Vice Chairwoman Katherine M. Clark all voted “no.”
But it was media and far left darlings like Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley (nicknamed “The Squad” by liberal newspapers)who appear to have rankled Pelosi the most.
Long the queen bee of left coast Democrat progressives, it seems ridiculous to imagine, but Pelosi is now the leader of what the Times has labeled leader of “The Mighty Moderates.”
Pelosi still blamed Mitch McConnell for the border bill calling him “authentically terrible” but she seemed preoccupied with Ocasio-Cortez.
Looking to downplay the media insistence on portraying the freshman Representative as powerful, Pelosi said, “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.”
Before the vote, Ocasio-Cortez openly criticized lawmakers in her own party as failing to pass a measure that would monitor how Customs and Border Protection (CBP) uses congressional funding. She fumed, “They just wrote a multi-billion-dollar blank check for misconduct.”
Ocasio-Cortez was referring to “The Problem Solvers Caucus”, a group of 48 Congressional members evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats dedicated to finding bipartisan agreement on major policy issues.
The New York representative has dominated the news with her attacks on CBP, now accusing the agency of spreading lies about her. She tweeted: “And now CBP is pushing easily disprovable lies about members of Congress. Truly nuts.” She linked to tweets disputing the National Border Patrol Council’s (NBPC) contention that the congresswoman described their agents as “Nazis.”
In her interview with Dowd, Pelosi said AOC and her Squad “made themselves irrelevant to the process by voting against our bill.”
The Speaker seemed torn between dismissing AOC and battling Mitch McConnell. She told Dowd, “The press likes to make a story that is more about Democrats divided than the fact that Mitch McConnell doesn’t care about the children.’’ Pelosi accused the press of “constantly enabling” President Trump by reporting what she called “trash” stories about some supposed rift in her party.
Where the Democratic Party finds itself today is epitomized by Pelosi’s centrist standing compared to the far eft radicals like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Maureen Dowd observed in her article exposing the rift in the Democratic Party, “The Speaker … must know that getting Trump out of office … could be jeopardized by the fact that the Democrats lurched so far left in the first debates, with bilingual pandering and talk about busing and decriminalizing illegal border crossings and abolishing private health insurance.”
Pelosi defended her “leftist” standing saying, “If the left doesn’t think I’m left enough, so be it … we have to have a solution, not just a Twitter fight.”
Despite her bravado, Nancy Pelosi has to be worried. Not about AOC but Donald Trump. A divided party cost Democrats the White House in 2016 and they look poised to do it again in 2020.