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AOC says Pelosi is "singling out" women of color in Congress

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) listen as Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speak.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Donna Shalala listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of "singling out" newly elected women of color in Congress, in an interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday.

"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. 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."

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez made the comments after Pelosi warned progressives in a closed-door meeting Wednesday to privately air party grievances, according to WashPost, Politico, USA Today and other outlets, citing sources present in the room.

  • The outlets quote Pelosi as saying, "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."
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) told WashPost she found Pelosi's comments "demoralizing."
"I am worried about the signal that it sends to people I speak to and for, who sent me here with a mandate, and how it affects them."
— Rep. Pressley

Context: Both parties have publicly aired disagreements in recent days. On Saturday, Pelosi singled out Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with the New York Times.

"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."
  • Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response, "That public 'whatever' is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country." 

Why it matters: The situation highlights the political and generational divide between the most powerful woman in U.S. politics and the progressives trying to push the party left, as WashPost notes.