House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday stood by her comments that downplayed the power of four high-profile freshman women in the House, increasing the tension between the congressional leader and her colleagues.
“I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do,” Pelosi told reporters about her Sunday remarks on the so-called “Squad” ― a group of progressives that include Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.).
Asked @SpeakerPelosi: Any regrets your comments to @maureendowd may have created some disunity? "No, I do not. Four people voted for the bill. That's what I said. And no other people followed. I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do."
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) July 10, 2019
The comments came after Pelosi left a closed-door meeting Wednesday in which she reportedly warned the Democratic left, specifically Capitol Hill staffers, to keep their criticism of more moderate colleagues in the party to themselves.
According to two attendees at the meeting who spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, Pelosi’s remarks appeared to at least partially be a jab at Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarty, who recently urged his fellow Twitter followers to support a primary challenger to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and tweeted, “Pelosi is just mad that she got outmaneuvered (again) by Republicans.”
“You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it,” Pelosi reportedly said in the meeting, according to the Post. “But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK.”
The progressive Democrats
The progressive Democrats
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, and D-N.Y., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., center, walk down the House steps to take a group photograph of the House Democratic women members of the 116th Congress on the East Front Capitol Plaza on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins. Also pictured is Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., right. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2019, file photo, committee members, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., right, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., left, listen to testimony by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Activists hoping to defeat House Democrats in next year’s primary elections with more diverse and progressive candidates say the high-profile success they had last year with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory creates a new concern. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 07: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attend a rally on the East Front of the Capitol to call on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Thursday, February 7, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., right, listen as President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., listens as Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought testifies before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, during a hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., answers the roll call as the House Oversight and Reform Committee votes 24-15 to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2018 file photo, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley speaks at a rally at City Hall in Boston. On Nov. 6, Pressley became Massachusetts' first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)
FILE - On this Jan. 17, 2019, file photo, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats on Monday, May 13, defended Tlaib after President Donald Trump and his allies mischaracterized her remarks about the Holocaust to accuse her of anti-Semitism. Tlaib told a Yahoo News podcast that she gets "a calming feeling" when she thinks of how her Palestinian ancestors suffered under the creation of the state of Israel. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., prepares to do a television interview on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 27, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., talks to other guests before the start of a funeral service for former Rep. John Dingell, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington. Dingell, who represented southeast Michigan for 59 years in the House of Representatives, died last week at age 92. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, looks over her notes during testimony by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Sitting next to Ocasio-Cortez is Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., right. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks at the 2019 Essence Festival at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2018, file photo, then-Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., adjusts her coat after posing with other members of the freshman class of Congress for a group photo opportunity on Capitol Hill in Washington. It's known as "the theater committee" for its high profile, high-drama role investigating President Donald Trump's White House. And now, five of the fieriest Democratic freshmen in the House are players on that stage. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, file)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, joined at left by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., announces legislation to cancel all student debt, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, June 24, 2019. Sanders called the student debt burden in this country the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation, the millennial generation, to a lifetime of debt for the crime of doing the right thing. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks at a news conference with Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to call for legislation to cancel all student debt, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, June 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
From left, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., respond to the roll call as the House Oversight and Reform Committee votes 24-15 to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., listens during questioning at a House Oversight and Reform committee hearing on facial recognition technology in government, Tuesday June 4, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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In an interview published Sunday with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Pelosi slammed the four women of color and dismissed them as a tiny squad with no real power in Congress.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she told Dowd of the first-year congresswomen, some of whom she was happy to pose with on the January cover of Rolling Stone. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”
Ninety-five House Democrats, including the four women, voted against the Senate version of the immigration bill, which increased funding to deal with conditions at the border but lacked humanitarian guarantees for detained migrants, specifically children. Pelosi chose not to amend the bill before it passed, leading to sharp criticism from some Democrats, including the “Squad.”
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that [Pelosi] 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 Post later that Wednesday. “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.”
Pressley told the Post that the speaker’s comments were “demoralizing.”
“Thank God my mother gave me broad shoulders and a strong back. I can handle it. I’m not worried about me,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “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.”
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