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USA Today journalist Susan Page’s interviews with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her upcoming biography “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power” shed light on tensions underlying the Democratic House majority — particularly those between establishment Democrats and a group of rising progressives called the “squad.”
In one of her interviews with Page for the book, Pelosi unloaded on the group of progressive lawmakers, putting on, at one point, a “child-like voice” while discussing its most noteworthy member, New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Axios reported.
According to the outlet, Pelosi further gave the “squad” her two cents, advising them: “You’re not a one-person show. This is the Congress of the United States.”
The Squad comprises at least six politicians of color who are among the most progressive members of the House and are known for their support for climate action, Medicare for All and other liberal goals.
Its first four members — Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — joined the House after the 2018 midterms.
The group further expanded to include Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri following the 2020 House of Representatives elections.
Right from the time the group’s first representatives took office, they and Pelosi have traded barbs on multiple occasions. And in July 2019, their conflict escalated to a point where Pelosi said that she would not like to discuss the matter further, according to The Hill.
Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez — the most outspoken member of the “squad” — have tussled over several subjects.
Ocasio-Cortez has criticized Pelosi for allegedly concentrating her critique on female congresspeople of color, while Pelosi reprimanded Ocasio-Cortez for attacking her fellow Democrats publicly, The Hill reported.
Will the conflict within the Democrat Party eventually cause the party to split?
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The back and forth between the “squad” and Pelosi is part of a conflict between progressive Democrats and the more moderate wing of the party.
For roughly three hours in a post-election conference call among House Democrats on Nov. 5, centrist-leaning Democrats criticized their liberal counterparts for allegedly promoting far-left ideology, The Washington Post reported.
In the call, more moderate members of the caucus accused liberals of being the reason why Democrats lost multiple seats in places where they hoped to win, with Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia saying, “We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. … We lost good members because of that,” according to The Post.
The Post further reported that the liberals, including at least one member of the “squad,” retorted during the heated exchange, telling their colleagues not to attack individuals and ideas that they believe “energize” the party base.
According to bookseller Barnes and Nobles, Page’s biography of Pelosi will be available to the public on April 20.
Besides documenting Pelosi’s relationship with the “squad,” the book also presents Pelosi’s experiences with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, as well as her time as House speaker, according to Axios and a USA Today excerpt of the work.
“Mitch McConnell,” she reportedly said, “is not a force for good in the country. He is an enabler of some of the worst stuff, and an instigator of some of it on his own.”
Moreover, “Pelosi scoffs at President Obama for not being able to deliver his home state votes for Obamacare — ‘Why are we having a problem with Illinois?’ — and bristles at Obama getting sole credit for the deals she got through Congress,” Axios reported.
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