- The Washington Times
Thursday, July 11, 2019

The co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus plan to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to patch the fissures that have emerged between her and four liberal female freshman lawmakers.

Reps. Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal said the meeting is part of a larger conversation they’ve been looking to have with Democratic leaders, but it will include a discussion about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the fellow progressive freshmen Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, dubbed “the Squad,” who have feuded with Mrs. Pelosi.

“I personally think the so-called Squad is an integral part to, not just the Democratic caucus, but all the issues we’re trying to get done,” Mr. Pocan told reporters Thursday.

No date has been set, but Mr. Pocan expects the meeting some time next week. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer will also attend.

Ms. Jayapal suggested Thursday that the freshmen, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in particular, have been a challenge for Mrs. Pelosi.

“I don’t think the speaker is used to having a group of members who has bigger Twitter followings than her. I don’t think most of us are,” the Washington Democrat said in a Politico interview.

Mr. Pocan said progressives have been loyal to the party and want to remind leadership that remains true, despite the past couple weeks of squabbles.

“We just want to have a general conversation, maybe remember, you know, who your allies are,” he said.

Mrs. Pelosi and the “Squad” fought over strategy for handling President Trump’s request for an emergency border spending bill last month, then traded barbs over how they reacted to each other.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez upped the ante Wednesday evening, suggesting to The Washington Post in an interview that Mrs. Pelosi was “outright disrespectful” in criticizing the four women, who are all racial or ethnic minorities.

On Thursday, the New York congresswoman scaled her comments back, telling CNN she “absolutely” doesn’t think Mrs. Pelosi is racist.

Ms. Jayapal said she could relate to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s complaint and said there needs to be a larger conversation.

“I’ve generally seen Speaker Pelosi be very, very respectful of her members,” she told reporters. “I would like to know what’s going on here because I don’t think this is typically — the comments she made, however she meant them, have a certain interpretation, obviously.”

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