Tensions are running high between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and progressive freshman Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley. After the four recently voted "no" on a House bill directing money toward the border, Pelosi told the New York Times , "All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following." This led AOC to respond in a Washington Post article, calling Pelosi's comments toward the women over the past months " outright disrespectful."
But what exactly has happened over all these months? Below, a deep dive into the rift between Pelosi and the four Democrats.
November 2018: AOC participates in a sit-in at Pelosi's office.
One of AOC’s first moves as a congresswoman-elect, back in November 2018, was to join the Sunrise Movement in their sit-in at Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill as they called for congressional action on climate change.
According to The Hill , Pelosi responded to the group in a statement, saying, "We welcome the presence of these activists, and we strongly urge the Capitol Police to allow them to continue to organize and participate in our democracy."
And AOC was clear that she meant no animosity toward Pelosi. She told reporters, "One of the things I admire so much about leader Pelosi is that she comes from a space of activism and organizing, and so I think that she really appreciates civic engagement, and really what I’m here to do is just to support the folks who are here. This is an encouragement of her."
February 2019: Pelosi makes her now-infamous "green dream" comment.
In an interview with Politico in February, Pelosi discussed her decision to launch a select committee on climate change, though she said the committee would not be "tasked with" writing a specific bill. In the conversation, she referred to Ocasio-Cortez's signature package of climate change legislation, called the Green New Deal, as a "suggestion."
Pelosi told the outlet, "It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?"
When asked if she found the comment offensive, Ocasio-Cortez brushed it off, saying , "No, I think it is a green dream."
April 2019: Pelosi says "a glass of water" could have won AOC's district.
During an interview with 60 Minutes , when asked about " AOC and her group," Pelosi shot back, "That's like five people." Then shortly after, she was reported saying a "glass of water" could have won AOC's district. Here's the full comment, according to Newsweek : "When we won this election, it wasn't in districts like mine or Alexandria's. And she's a wonderful member of Congress, I think all of our colleagues will attest. But those are districts that are solidly Democratic. This glass of water would win with a D next to its name in those districts."
July 6, 2019: Pelosi disses the congresswomen's "Twitter world."
Pelosi did an interview with the Times in July where she discussed the recent funding bill passed in Congress. The bill sent billions of dollars to immigration authorities at the border, but some Democrats wanted the bill to include safeguards and oversight on the money. Pelosi went ahead without the protections and agreed to pass the bill anyway, causing a number of Democrats, including AOC, Tlaib, Omar, and Pressley, to vote against it.
When asked in the interview about the House members who were frustrated over her decision, 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."
July 6, 2019: AOC responds to Pelosi's quote in the Times .
Directly responding to Pelosi's words in the Times interview, AOC tweeted, " That public 'whatever' is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”
AOC also doubled-down on her decision to vote against the funding, tweeting, "I don’t believe it was a good idea for Dems to blindly trust the Trump admin when so many kids have died in their custody. It’s a huge mistake. This admin also refuses to hand over docs to Congress on the whereabouts of families. People’s lives are getting bargained, & for what?"
July 10, 2019: Pelosi chastises AOC's chief of staff.
After Saikat Chakrabarti , Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, sent out (and later deleted) a number of tweets criticizing Pelosi, Politico reported that Pelosi told House members to tell their staffers to "think twice" before they tweet.
July 11, 2019: AOC calls Pelosi's comments "outright disrespectful."
The Washington Post then dug deeper into the relationship between Pelosi and the four freshman Democrats, writing, " The four are struggling with the speaker’s moves to isolate them in recent weeks. Pelosi has made at least half a dozen remarks dismissing the group or their far-left proposals on the environment and health care. More recently she scorned their lonely opposition to the party’s emergency border bill last month."
Speaking to the Post , AOC said her feelings toward Pelosi's comments have changed over time. " When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood," she said. "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."
She said the "third and fourth time" Pelosi insulted her, she felt they were unnecessary but had given in to being "the punching bag, if that's what they want me to be." AOC also admits that there's isn't really a relationship between her and Pelosi, saying it's "difficult." The Post reports that the two have not spoken one-on-one since February. At the time, AOC declined Pelosi's request that AOC join her committee on climate change. After AOC refused, Pelosi singled her out in a private Progressive Caucus meeting.
Pressley also called Pelosi's comments "demoralizing," telling the Post , " 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."
Two sources told the Post that Pelosi commented on the situation during a private meeting, saying that members should show "some level of respect" to more moderate Democrats.
July 11, 2019: Pelosi says she's "not going to be discussing" the recent rift any further.
At her weekly press conference, The Hill reports that Pelosi shied away from most questions asking about the recent tensions. When asked about whether the four freshman took offense to what she said about not publicly criticizing one another, Pelosi responded: "They took offense because I addressed, at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the members' offices that referenced our Blue Dogs and our New Dems essentially as segregationists. Our members took offense at that. I addressed that. How they're interpreting and carrying it to another place is up to them." She continued, "But I'm not going to be discussing it any further. I said what I'm going to say."
Pelosi is referring to the since-deleted tweets from Chakrabarti that compared some members to Southern Democrats.