House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly mocked Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and other members of the progressive “Squad” when they arrived in Congress amid growing tensions between the moderate and left-wing factions of the party, according to a new report.
On Thursday Politico published an adapted excerpt from USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page’s new book Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power, which details how tensions flared early on between Pelosi and the Squad, the progressive group of lawmakers elected in 2018 that includes Ocasio-Cortez and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.).
After the Squad members cast the only four Democratic votes against an immigration bill the speaker had backed, Pelosi showed little concern over their opposition, Page writes.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she told The New York Times in an interview at the time. “But they don’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”
The situation escalated when Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, sent a series of critical tweets about the speaker.
“Pelosi claims we can’t focus on impeachment because it’s a distraction from kitchen table issues,” he wrote. “But I’d challenge you to find voters that can name a single thing House Democrats have done for their kitchen table this year. What is this legislative mastermind doing?”
He also blasted the Blue Dogs, a group of moderate Democrats, calling them the “New Southern Democrats,” a reference to the segregationists who blocked civil rights legislation. “They certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s,” he wrote. However, he later deleted the tweet.
Pelosi then reportedly tried to get the new members to fall in line during a private meeting of the Democratic caucus.
“So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it,” she said. “But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK.”
“Some of you are here to make a beautiful pâté,” she said, “but we’re making sausage most of the time.”
Later, Page asked if the new members had failed to understand the “sausage-making process.” The journalist says Pelosi then “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 said.
Page writes that she then “changed her voice and mimicked a child trying to make a solemn show of piety,” and said, “See how perfect I am and how pure?”
“Remember when David used to say that all the time?” Pelosi asked of the Wisconsin congressman. “‘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 said.
“They’ll understand when they have something they want to pass,” Pelosi said. “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.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she added.