Pelosi: ‘No regrets about anything’ as feud tests Dem unity

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks to reporters following a House Democratic caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., listens as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh

  • FILE - In this June 27, 2019, file photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during her weekly media availability on Capitol Hill in Washington. They don’t talk to each other much, Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — but they certainly speak past one another, in a very public way that now threatens the House agenda. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) Alex Brandon

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., listens during a House Oversight and Reform Committee meeting, on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez don't talk much to each other, but the way they are speaking at one another threatens party unity and underscores broader tensions reshaping the Democrats. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. Scott Applewhite

Associated Press
Published: 7/10/2019 6:29:14 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez don’t talk to each other much. But lately they’re speaking at one another in a way that threatens Democratic unity and underscores broader tensions reshaping their party.

Pelosi chided AOC, as she’s called, in a newspaper interview, and the first-term New York congresswoman responded pointedly on Twitter. Their power struggle has spilled open in what could be a momentary blip or a foreshadowing of divisions to come.

“I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday while leaving a closed-door meeting of House Democrats.

Yet inside that lengthy session, Pelosi, D-Calif., also struck a more measured tone. She reminded lawmakers that their unity as the House majority is their power, especially as they confront Republicans, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Without that unity, we are playing completely into the hands of the other people,” Pelosi said, according to a person who was in the meeting room but was not authorized to talk publicly about the internal discussion.

“We’re a family and we have our moments,” Pelosi told colleagues. “So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just okay.”

Ocasio-Cortez arrived late to the session and did not speak, according to a second person who attended the session.

Other lawmakers, including some first-term members who helped flip Republican seats to the Democratic column in 2018, also made the case for sticking on the same team and keeping the internal drama private.

It all started with the rare public rebuke between the Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez, played out in the media, that’s now challenging the House agenda and rippling into the 2020 presidential campaign. A test will come later this week on a must-pass defense bill that the White House has threatened to veto.

The tension between the most powerful Democrat in the country and one of the party’s newest, most liberal members embodies a debate over how best, in style and substance, to defeat President Donald Trump. Each side think it’s right.

For Pelosi allies, her offhand dismissal of Ocasio-Cortez and three other liberal first-term lawmakers who opposed a border security package last month was a necessary comeuppance for “the squad” of newcomers who are trying to push the party leftward.

“These people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi told the New York Times. “But they didn’t have any following.”

But for fans of Ocasio-Cortez, including some of her millions of social media followers, Pelosi’s remarks were nothing short of a patronizing slap-back to four women of color who represent the future of the Democratic Party and a stark example of its generational and demographic transition. Their four lonely votes against the bill were portrayed as a principled stand, with more to come.

“To dismiss any member’s force, and particularly these four members who do have a tremendous following in the progressive base, I think is not the best thing,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

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