Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been steadily escalating a war of words against members of her own party. The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that in a closed-door meeting, Pelosi upbraided Democrats for criticizing one another and not presenting a united front. "You got a complaint?" she said. "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."
While she wasn't naming names, Pelosi was reportedly directing her comments to a group unofficially called "The Squad," made up of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Pelosi's scolding for complaining in public forums comes just days after a New York Times interview with Maureen Dowd in which Pelosi dismissed the four women, saying, "All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got." According to the Post, Pelosi defended those comments on Wednesday, saying, "I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do."
After the closed-door meeting, Ocasio-Cortez expressed her frustration:
"When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood," Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post. "But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color."
Pelosi was specifically referring to the Squad's opposition to a border funding package from the Republican-dominated Senate. The Speaker agreed to bring the $4 billion bill for a vote in the House, and it passed 305 to 102, thanks to Republicans and right-leaning Democrats. Despite winning some small concessions, the four progressive congresswomen voted against the bill. Ocasio-Cortez described it as "throwing more money to ICE," and Omar tweeted, "A vote for Mitch McConnell's border bill is a vote to keep kids in cages and terrorize immigrant communities."
But Pelosi has been dismissive of the priorities of the new progressive congresswomen before. In a February interview with Politico, for example, she described the Green New Deal as "the green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?" The speaker's deputy chief of staff has defended his boss's recent comments to the Times, saying she was responding to "attacks that these members leveled at Pelosi herself. If you want to throw a punch, be prepared to take one."
It's not clear what attacks he's referring to. When Democrats took back the House in 2018, the biggest threat to Pelosi's speakership came from the party's right flank. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts campaigned to unseat Pelosi, but she ultimately won—with the support of progressives like Ocasio-Cortez. At the time, Ocasio-Cortez said, "All the challenges to Leader Pelosi are coming from her right, in an apparent effort to make the party even more conservative and bent toward corporate interests. Hard pass. So long as Leader Pelosi remains the most progressive candidate for Speaker, she can count on my support."
Originally Appeared on GQ