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Costa writes: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faced sharp criticism Sunday from some liberal lawmakers and activists over her latest comments about a group of Democratic women who opposed last month's House emergency border aid bill that was supported by the leadership and most Democrats."

House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (photo: Oliver Contreras/WP)
House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (photo: Oliver Contreras/WP)


Tensions Flare Over Pelosi's Comments About Four House Democratic Women and Border Bill

By Robert Costa, The Washington Post

09 July 19

 

ouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faced sharp criticism Sunday from some liberal lawmakers and activists over her latest comments about a group of Democratic women who opposed last month’s House emergency border aid bill that was supported by the leadership and most Democrats.

The continued and increasingly charged debate over the House’s approach to what became a $4.6 billion package — and complaints that it failed to set standards for the humane treatment of migrants held in federal custody — underlined the tensions among Democrats over strategy and policy as they counter President Trump.

Although Pelosi maintains that she is aggressively confronting Trump on immigration and other fronts, there is widespread anger among liberals about the president and growing calls for Pelosi to resist working with the administration and begin impeachment proceedings.

“It is very disappointing that the speaker would ever try to diminish our voices in so many ways,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who voted against the border bill, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Tlaib’s remarks came hours after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) voiced her frustration with House Democratic leaders on Saturday night in tweets. Ocasio-Cortez was responding to Pelosi’s comment in a New York Times interview that the opposition to last month’s border bill was misguided and scant, with just four Democrats opposing the House version of the border bill.

“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,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “It’s a huge mistake.”

The original, House-passed bill had stronger restrictions for the administration on migrant custody issues. Elements of that bill were later dropped in the Senate’s border legislation.

Pelosi has repeatedly swatted back criticism of the House border bill by citing her own horror at reports of poor conditions at overcrowded U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities where unaccompanied children have been kept. She has said those reports made swift action necessary, even as Democrats oppose Trump’s immigration policies.

Still, four first-term House Democratic women with high profiles — Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar (Minn.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) — decided to vote against the measure, encouraged by liberal activists and migrant advocacy groups. Omar said at the time that the bill was only “throwing more money” at the Trump administration, which she accused of committing “human rights abuses.”

“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said in an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that was published online Saturday. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

Ocasio-Cortez rebuked Pelosi’s comment to Dowd about her bloc’s “public whatever” in a Saturday tweet, writing, “That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”

Tlaib argued Sunday that the opposition of the four first-term women is significant because of their backgrounds and life experiences, regardless of whether it caused consternation for House Democratic leaders.

“You know, people like us, people like me and Ayanna, Ilhan and Alexandria, we’re reflective of our nation in many ways,” Tlaib told ABC News. “Guess what? We know what it feels like to be dehumanized. We know what it feels like to be brown and black in this country. And I’ll tell you right now, we’re not going to stand by and sit idly by and allow brown and dark-skinned children to be ripped away from their parents to be dehumanized.”

Some House Democrats voiced support as the four lawmakers stood by their opposition to Pelosi’s handling of the border bill.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, tweeted Saturday, “Do not dismiss [Ocasio-Cortez] for casting lonely votes. . . . History proves that dissent provokes reflection & change.”

Several prominent liberal activists, such as former Obama administration official Brian Fallon — now at Demand Justice, a liberal organizing group — also chimed in with support.

“The four House freshmen whom Pelosi dismisses in the Dowd column have done more to define the vision and moral center of today’s Democratic party than all of the message bills pushed by the party leadership combined,” Fallon wrote in a tweet on Sunday.

Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, shrugged off Fallon’s critique. “Said with all the anti-establishment gusto a former Schumer and Clinton spox can manage,” he tweeted.

Fallon previously worked as an adviser and spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Hammill also tweeted Sunday that Pelosi was responding to Dowd’s question about the specific criticism “this group leveled against Pelosi” on the border bill — and he said she was not making a broadly contemptuous statement about their political standing.

“She’s not talking about them as votes but referring to the Tuesday vote where they were the only four Dem nays,” Hammill wrote.

In the Dowd interview, Pelosi criticized news coverage of the Democratic response to Trump’s immigration efforts as making “a story that is more about Democrats divided than the fact that” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “doesn’t care about the children.”

Republicans and Trump allies reveled in the Democratic back-and-forth on Sunday.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted, “Shots fired!” and former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn tweeted that Pelosi’s comments were “coldblooded.”

Pelosi’s interview with Dowd is not the first time she has drawn the ire of liberals for how she has talked about Ocasio-Cortez and other influential freshmen.

During an April interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Pelosi said the faction of lawmakers clashing with leadership was “like five people” as she defended her record as a liberal leader. In an interview with USA Today that same month, she said, “While there are people who have a large number of Twitter followers, what’s important is that we have large numbers of votes on the floor of the House.”

The House passed a $4.5 billion emergency border aid bill on June 25. The 230-to-195 vote, largely along party lines, followed a flurry of last-minute negotiations among Democrats.

Inside a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting before the vote, Pelosi characterized a vote against the House bill as “a vote for Donald Trump and his inhumane, outside-the-circle of civilized attitude toward the children,” according to notes taken by an aide present in the room who was not authorized to comment publicly.

Pelosi asked the members in the room whether anyone had a problem with the bill. She was met with silence, according to the aide’s notes.

Under pressure to finish the emergency package before the Fourth of July congressional break, Pelosi and Democratic leaders acquiesced to rebellious moderates and the GOP, as the House backed the bipartisan $4.6 billion Senate bill that had fewer restrictions on the Trump administration.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman, called on Congress last week to pass a bill this month addressing next year’s spending by the Department of Homeland Security, frustrated that the >emergency legislation failed to include explicit standards for the care of migrants in federal custody.

“We need to leverage our power in the House of Representatives,” Castro said in an interview. Any new border legislation, he said, needs to “move people out of the system faster, lift the standards of care and, for the long term, invest in Central America so that you have less people desperate enough to try to make the journey.”

Pelosi did not personally respond to the criticism from Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday.

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+45 # barkingcarpet 2019-07-09 09:37
What a fluster cluck, and where are WE, the PEOPLE in all of this?

We abdicate our responsibilitie s and wait for "leaders" to save us from ourselves, while the world and the Environments which support life as we knew it, tank around us all.

While the Dem's ARE certainly a bit less insane than the Rep's, BOTH are beholden to Corporate exploitative profit is everything as the underlying ethic, and neither will make a future either worth living in, or which is livable.

Really thought, it IS WE, who create and choose the future, with every waking dollar, and every trash can of disposable, once living ecosystems, which we toss, week after year. There is no away....

Where are WE?
 
 
+8 # Robbee 2019-07-09 10:14
Quoting barkingcarpet 2019-07-09 09:37:
Where are WE?

- we are right here

right where we belong

taking over the dem party

leading america progressive

"despair is not an option!" - b. sanders

- pop quiz!

did you think weaning a major party off of their corporate sponsors was gonna be easy?
 
 
+1 # Tjerzyk1 2019-07-09 22:08
YES!!!
 
 
+6 # coberly 2019-07-09 10:39
yes. we talk, talk, talk, while the kids are still in jail, and not a nice one at that.

there are other things Pelosi could do for "swift action necessary" besides give Trump carte blanche. i think her brain is paralyzed by parliamentary thinking.

meanwhile i wish AOC would provide actual leadership.. as in go down to the border and demand they be let in and the kids be let out. dare the cops to shoot... or arrest what should be at least the half the congress and show us what kind of country we really live in.
 
 
0 # SusanT136 2019-07-10 21:01
Quoting coberly:
meanwhile i wish AOC would provide actual leadership.. as in go down to the border and demand they be let in and the kids be let out. dare the cops to shoot... or arrest what should be at least the half the congress and show us what kind of country we really live in.


AOC DID go to the border, did manage to get into an area they were trying to keep members of Congress away from, and got a lot of information while also trying to personally comfort some of those in “detention’. Please pay attention!

She has no power to arrest anyone. Unfortunately one of the big problems were facing right now is that it’s the executive branch of government that does the enforcing, headed by the Attorney General. And Bill Barr is thumbing his nose at Congress and the American people, refusing to enforce subpoenas etc.
 
 
+22 # tsyganka 2019-07-09 12:26
"We," unfortunately, are sitting on our butts at work, at school/universi ty, at home, or in our box under a viaduct.

WE should be in the streets in a prolonged and peaceful general strike before a fascist takeover makes dissent impossible, i.e., lethal.

It wouldn't take many if people from key areas participated - transportation, education, sanitation, to name a few.

We don't have to scream or break stuff. All we need to do is to block traffic and have a list of demands ready (close the camps, put science back in govt, stop spying on us, no more regime changes, etc.). We can stand in the streets, on railroads, and (with boats) block transportation on the waterways as well. Also, insofar as possible, avoid buying stuff (i.e., avoid giving money to corporations).

When people, produce, and products aren't being moved from here to there, BizNiss stops, and corporatists finally heed the people.

In preparation: There are radio/podcast hosts who'd be willing to spread the word. We can also tell organizations that send us newsletters that a strike will begin on such & such a date, and ask them to inform their news-lists. We can write letters to editors and call in on radio shows.

I propose a prolonged peaceful general strike repeated as often as necessary. I propose (arbitrarily) that it begin on the 15th of each month, beginning in August 2019.

What do you think? Is this an idea worth spreading, an action worth taking?
 
 
+3 # economagic 2019-07-09 20:07
I'll be out there. I was on strike from 1968 (the year I graduated from college) until about 1994, when I sort of dropped back in, returning to school to become an economist so I could say with authority just how bogus that "academic discipline" is. Now I'm retired (in principle), but I
m ready to go on strike against even that if there's a little support.
 
 
0 # coberly 2019-07-09 20:42
well, i'd be there, but you don't seem to be getting many takers.

someone gotta lead. maybe those four congresspeople?
 
 
+2 # tsyganka 2019-07-10 22:44
Very good thought - contact the 4.

In the past, I tried to organize fellow renters when a landlord raised the rent during a rent freeze. They were too afraid to participate; but when I said "escrow" and "lawyer" at the landlord, he relented and restored the old rent cost.

Years later while editing in academia-land (during the Error of non-elected Bush), I tried to unionize clerical workers. The uni forbade such organizing on-campus, the workers were afraid of losing their low-pay jobs, and (despite my seeking advice from local union leaders) they wouldn't even meet off-campus to unite for a memorandum of understanding.

Re the general strike, I got 2 radio hosts to agree to spread the word, and I emailed and/or phoned over 75 anti-war, pro-environment , pro-human rights organizations that (what weary repetition!) were too afraid to even inform their newsletter recipients.

So, overall, I haven't had much success, but I've damn sure shown willing. I keep presenting the idea in various forums hoping that someone with positive experience and know-how and connections/inf luence would say something about how to do this. I'm pushing 80 now, and my limited physical abilities prevent me from doing much except talking online (I don't have social media.)

Yours is the first positive idea that I've received in a forum. Thank you, truly. I intend to keep trying, because we Need a peaceful resolution - and soon - to our governmental and climate crises. Thanks again.
 
 
0 # economagic 2019-07-12 08:08
I have no organizing skills, but I'm going to keep this page up for a while to see what happens. Your experience is typical of the past 45 years, during which time the oligarchs have consolidated their power with the acquiescence of most of the working class.

I have never had the privilege of joining a union, as I have freelanced most of my life, and in Right-To-Work-F or-Less states except for a few years in San Francisco, freelancing when I was working at all. I met an old Wobbly there, the first indication I had that the Wobs were still in existence. I also had an elderly friend who was an enforcer in the GS of the 30s, philosophically a Marxist but a successful small businessman by trade. He was the best-read person I have ever encountered, including far too many college professors, and I learned a lot from him.

The big global climate strike being organized for late September could serve to kick-start a general strike.
 
 
+1 # David Starr 2019-07-10 08:09
@barkingcarpet: The Republican and Democratic parties are ideologically the same. They are both parties of capital. And as you say, beholden to corporate exploitative profit.

Democrats do have some Left/Progressiv es. And tactics sometimes differ from the GOP. But I could say, because of the two parties' ideological likeness, that the U.S. has had one-party rule for over 100 years.
 
 
+13 # 1dfnslblty 2019-07-09 10:49
Speaker is a tool of, or even an accomplice with The Other Side.
Power has corrupted the speaker.
Immigration is not a new challenge, and voting against the bill demonstrated a long-held view that mainstream Democratic representatives have allowed potus to deny and to subjugate.
 
 
+21 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-07-09 10:50
Pelosi is a BIG part of the problem.The "divide and conquer" has effectively insured that the "status quo" continues. Republicans and Democrats take the same Corporation's money and continue to feed the insatiable War Machine. Pelosi is a multi-Millionar e. Do you think she wants change?
Vote Progressive. Take back "our" government.
 
 
+15 # dotlady 2019-07-09 10:50
While Pelosi is due respect for her long years of thougtful service, I'm beginning to lose faith in her ability to see forward. Can't she stretch a little more in the direction that the future demands if we are to have a just society? She and other old-school Democrats need to tackle the facts that the climate emergency and US policies are driving people north, and we need to treat them as we would wish to be treated should we have to migrate to survive.
 
 
+1 # tsyganka 2019-07-10 22:52
Well said, dotlady.

Pelosi knows the governmental system and how to twist arms for votes; but I'm irked that lately she blames "the squad of 4" for what Schumer does to her. He's the one who caved to Senate Republicans and essentially forced her into a 'deadline' vote. I opine that he better watch his political back, as Pelosi KNOWS what he did. I also opine that Chuckie has been on the job Waaaaay too long.
 
 
-4 # HenryS1 2019-07-09 11:05
We, the people, are all over the place, splintered, confused, disagreeing, and very difficult for our elected representative to assess.

Most of us are in bubbles of like-minded people who convince US that we are a WE because we do not discuss much with those we do not disagree with.

I'm not trying to give ANYone a hard time here. I would make a terrible politician, myself.

I hope that Pelosi and the four see how public spats reduce all of their power, and are magnified by their opposition. I see both sides of what transpired with those votes.

Awkward compromises in a position with little leverage do not leave people feeling good. I really hope that both Pelosi and the four manage to work together more than at odds. I expect they will.
 
 
+2 # RLF 2019-07-10 07:27
The very reason Pelosi is awful is that she has compromised every time...with Republicans, with big business, she is the very definition of what is wrong with the Democratic party since Bill Clinton invented the idea of social conservative but "business friendly" Democrat. They stand for nothing. They are compromised from the foundation. It is time to quit compromising and force change or burn it to the ground because the US is starting to look like a failed country.
 
 
+2 # tsyganka 2019-07-10 22:54
As far as I'm concerned, Pelosi tore her panties when she took impeachment of non-elected Bush off the table.
 
 
+25 # chrisconno 2019-07-09 11:14
How dare those liberal, newly elected democrats challenge the party. Who do they think they are wanting humane standards be attached to four billion more dollars for for-profit summer concentration camps. What could they possibly be thinking. We need to throw more money at creating crimes against humanity. What kind of christians would we be if we required oversight over caging children. Duh!
 
 
+15 # Farafalla 2019-07-09 11:58
We have reached a point in the politics of this country where nobody dares say a thing. Where are the whistle blowers in federal agencies, witnessing daily what Trump us doing? Same with the "opposition". When I read "Pelosi asked the members in the room whether anyone had a problem with the bill. She was met with silence..." I am reminded of the intimidated liberals who never speak truth to power. Pelosi thinks she is infallible because all the Dem apparatchiks want to stay on her good side.
 
 
+25 # Observer 47 2019-07-09 13:44
Ro Khanna: “Do not dismiss [Ocasio-Cortez] for casting lonely votes. . . . History proves that dissent provokes reflection & change.”

Rep. Barbara Lee cast the sole vote against the AUMF in September 2001, and she is the only elected representative at the national level who ended up on the right side of history. Enough said.
 
 
+12 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-07-09 14:04
How dare a member of the House of Representatives actually represent the members of her district. Nancy Pelosi sure doesn't and Diane Feinstein is even worse. So much for San Francisco Liberals.
 
 
0 # tsyganka 2019-07-10 23:03
...which calls to mind: You might enjoy the newsletter from "Broke Ass Stuart," who isn't broke at all (he alternates between SF and NY); but he does care about the Bay Area, rent costs, the houseless, area icons where people gather, contributors' original articles, museums, the arts, occasional poetry and cartoons, sex worker interviews, ballot initiatives, elections, some really nice photography, and (yeah, they all do it) nice resistance gear.
 
 
+4 # Observer 47 2019-07-09 14:17
Ro Khanna: “Do not dismiss [Ocasio-Cortez] for casting lonely votes. . . . History proves that dissent provokes reflection & change.”

Rep. Barbara Lee cast the sole vote against the AUMF in September 2001, and she was the only elected representative at the national level who ended up on the right side of history. Enough said.
 
 
+7 # economagic 2019-07-09 20:12
"Pelosi has repeatedly swatted back criticism of the House border bill by citing her own horror at reports of poor conditions at overcrowded U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities where unaccompanied children have been kept."

It's not about Ms. Pelosi or her feelings. It is about the soul of this country, about whether we still have any soul. What putrid hypocrisy for her to feign concern then support the perps.
 
 
+1 # Porfiry 2019-07-11 10:18
Do the Democrats have someone of character, smarts, fighting spirit, etc.? I haven't seen one. Need someone who will be able to destroy Trump and lead us into a sensible future.
 

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