Dem Moderates and Centrists Chastised By Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez

Al Drago/Bloomberg News

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warns she'll put those voting with Republicans “on a list” for a primary challenge.

Washington Post, March 1, 2019

House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. AlexandriaOcasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans “on a list” for a primary challenge.

In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board. “We are either a team or we’re not, and we have to make that decision,” Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly.

But Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said she told her colleagues that Democrats who side with Republicans “are putting themselves on a list.”

“She said that when activists ask her why she had to vote for a gun safety bill that also further empowers an agency that forcibly injects kids with psychotropic drugs, they’re going to want a list of names and she’s going to give it to them,” Trent said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ocasio-Cortez on Friday disputed that she had directly threatened her colleagues, saying in a tweet that Democrats were “inadvertently making a list of targets for the GOP and for progressive advocates” by voting with Republicans.

Triggering the blowup was Wednesday’s votes on a bill to expand federal background checks for gun purchases.Twenty-six moderate Democrats joined Republicans in amending the legislation, adding a provision requiring that ICE be notified if an illegal immigrant seeks to purchase a gun.

That infuriated liberals who have railed against ICE’s role in conducting mass deportations and embarrassed Democratic leaders who couldn’t keep their members in line on a high-profile bill.

The Democratic infighting reflects a fractured caucus and diverse freshman class, with dozens of moderates elected in districts that President Trump won in 2016 at odds with hard-charging liberals. The split has exposed divisions among Pelosi and her top lieutenants, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.), over the party strategy to keep its newfound majority. ...
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