New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who dismissed her and other progressives who voted against their chamber’s bill to send $4.6 billion in emergency aid to the U.S. southern border.
"All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world," Pelosi said, according to the New York Times. "But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got."
“That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Saturday. “And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”
“I find it strange when members act as though social media isn’t important,” added the political newcomer whose social media savvy helped propel her prominence and eventually an upsetting victory against an establishment Democrat in the 2016 midterms.
Ocasio-Cortez was one of four freshman House Democrats to vote against Pelosi’s border aid bill in late June and was joined by Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. All four women, except for Omar, traveled to the border last week to tour migrant detention facilities and decried the “inhumane conditions” for migrant women and children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), such as unsanitary conditions, verbal abuse and threats that the migrants have experienced since arriving in the country, Yahoo News reported last week.
Their visit came after Pelosi, D-Calif., pulled a House border aid bill 234-195 and passed a Senate version 305-102, with 95 Democrats and seven Republicans voting no, before the Fourth of July recess. The $4.6 billion Senate bill, largely bipartisan legislation with senators voting 84-8, included $3 billion in humanitarian aid but also expanded funding for the Department of Defense.
The key differences between the bills fell around stricter oversight of migrant care in detention facilities, which was demanded by the House version, and additional money for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which was included in the Senate version, the only border aid measure President Trump said he would sign.
Democrats called for a conference to resolve the bills’ differences, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear there was no option for negotiation.
Pelosi, in a letter to House Democrats, conceded that “the children come first” and therefore would “reluctantly” pass the Senate bill.
“We will not engage in the same disrespectful behavior that the Senate did in ignoring our priorities,” she wrote. “In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who was the subject of vulgar attacks in a closed Facebook group of current and former Border Patrol agents, immediately decried the decision for a House vote and no negotiations. “Hell no,” she tweeted. “That’s an abdication of power we should refuse to accept. They will keep hurting kids if we do.”
“I don’t believe it was a good idea for Dems to blindly trust the Trump admin when so many kids have died in their custody,” Ocasio-Cortez said Saturday. “ It’s a huge mistake.”
Although Pelosi has called for her party to “own the center left, own the mainstream,” her efforts to hold the line between moderates and liberals in her chamber has become a blaring point of contention as evidenced in the House border bill defeat. But the Democratic leader says she has a greater responsibility than proving she is “left enough.”
“If the left doesn’t think I’m left enough, so be it,” she told the New York Times. “I understand what they’re saying. But we have a responsibility to get something done, which is different from advocacy. We have to have a solution, not just a Twitter fight.”
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