President Donald Trump came to the defense of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday as the California Democrat faces a sustained barrage of criticism for her shepherding through Congress of a bill that gave the White House $4.6 billion to continue the war on immigrants.
“Before anybody flips out too much at this tweet, consider that Pelosi advanced this football in her interview with Maureen Dowd. All Trump is doing is carrying it across the finish line.”
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The conflict between Pelosi, a California Democrat, and “The Squad,” as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) are known, began in late June after the Speaker pushed a huge immigration spending bill through the House.
The legislation delivered Trump billions of dollars for his border policies with no strings attached in a Senate bill with protections stripped out of it by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“Hell no,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. “That’s an abdication of power we should refuse to accept. They will keep hurting kids if we do.”
After criticism from Ocasio-Cortez and others became public, Pelosi gave an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, published on July 6, in which Pelosi dismissed The Squad as only having “their public whatever and their Twitter world.”
The ensuing back and forth culminated in a midweek meeting on July 10 in which, as Common Dreams reported, the Speaker admonished members of the caucus—and Ocasio-Cortez in particular—to “not tweet” or publicly air grievances but rather to come to Pelosi.
Whatever truce may have come out of the meeting was short-lived, however, as the party’s progressive wing has nonetheless been under attack over the weekend from the House leadership, including a tweet attacking Ocasio-Cortez’s Chief of Staff for a June critique of a vote by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and a new Dowd column in which she turned to Rahm Emmanuel for comment.
As Jeffrey Isaac pointed out in a column for Common Dreams on July 11, the intraparty battle exposes the difference in approach to politics from both sides of the party.
“Pelosi, in short, is trying her best to play the game of politics as usual—the only game she has known as she has ascended the party hierarchy,” wrote Isaac. “‘The Squad,’ on the other hand, is trying to change the rules of the game.”
Set against the backdrop of Sunday’s ICE raids that are specifically targeting families and the ongoing flow of images from border detention camps in the media, the intraparty fight is exposing the deep rift between more cautious party leadership and the outspoken new members.
That’s where Trump stepped in. The president—who seemed to be enjoying placing himself in the middle of an internecine squabble between his political enemies—expressed his support for Pelosi and decried her critics.
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