House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) seems to have mocked members of the “Squad” amid tension in 2019, and a soon-to-be-released book is sharing details.
There was an exchange in 2019 between Pelosi and the Democratic caucus where the speaker sternly said, “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 OK.”
This came after a dispute between Pelosi and “Squad” members. The “Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — voted against an immigration bill that Pelosi supported.
Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff “poured gasoline on the fire,” as USA Today’s Susan Page writes, in response to Pelosi’s dismissal of their opposition. He suggested “his boss was better at leading than Pelosi and accusing Democratic leaders of being unwilling to fight for their principles,” as the book excerpt reads.
Page sat down with Pelosi following the speaker’s meeting with the Democratic caucus. The article published on Thursday is an excerpt of the new biography of Pelosi by Page, which will be published on April 20.
After first suggesting everything was “fine” and Democrats “have always had our differences of opinion,” Pelosi was asked about her remarks about “a beautiful pâté” and making sausage and if “the new members fail to understand the sausage-making process.”
As Page writes:
“With that, she became as openly agitated as I had ever seen her in an interview — and not with me.
‘Some people come here, as Dave Obey would have said, to pose for holy pictures.’ She changed her voice and mimicked a child trying to make a solemn show of piety. ‘See how perfect I am and how pure?’
Obey, a Wisconsin congressman, had made his share of sausage as chair of the Appropriations Committee. ‘Remember when David used to say that all the time?’ Pelosi asked, still steaming. ‘OK, there’s the group that’s going to go pose for holy pictures. Now let’s legislate over here.’
‘And that’s experience,’ Pelosi declared.'”
Additionally, Pelosi told Page, “They’ll understand when they have something they want to pass. If you don’t want any results, you don’t ever have to do anything. But if you have something that you want to pass, you’re better off not having your chief of staff send out a tweet in the manner in which that was sent out. Totally inappropriate.”
She added, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
As Page notes, by the end of 2019, Pelosi had “set a record for keeping her caucus together, despite its ideological differences.”
Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill told Politico that the speaker and the “Squad” have a “strong working relationship.” He also said that Pelosi was not referring to the “Squad” specifically regarding her “holy pictures” comment.
Former communications director for Ocasio-Cortez, Corbin Trent, however, told Politico, “Baby talk says more about the person doing it than the person they’re characterizing.” He also claimed Pelosi was “jealous” of the “Squad” members.
Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez’s relationship now is “not warm and friendly, but it’s not as hostile as it was at different moments,” a House Democrat told Politico.
In the new biography, “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power,” Pelosi said her message to the Democratic caucus shortly after the “Squad” arrived, “When you come in, cross that door, take that oath, you have to be oriented toward results. Have confidence in what you believe in, have humility to listen to somebody else, because you’re not a one-person show. This is the Congress of the United States.”
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