“I’m taking into account who works against other members in primaries and who doesn’t,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) reportedly said prior to the vote to award the key committee position to Rep. Kathleen Rice over Ocasio-Cortez.
Freshman New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was snubbed Thursday during a private Democrat committee meeting held to decide a key House Energy and Commerce Committee seat, and it wasn’t even a close vote.
According to Politico, Ocasio-Cortez lost out to fellow NY Rep. Kathleen Rice in a 46-13 vote, and at points during the run-up to the vote, tensions ran high:
Just before the Steering Committee moved to vote on the Energy and Commerce slots, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team presented a slate of their preferred candidates for four out of the five seats.
But notably, top Democrats did not choose a nominee for the final seat, which is essentially reserved for a New York member — forcing Rice and Ocasio-Cortez into a head-to-head matchup.
The panel launched into an intense round of speeches on each candidate, with several Democrats speaking up to lobby against Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman member and social media star who is seen as a political threat by many of the caucus’s moderates for her far-left policies.
The piece also noted that some Democrats who took part in the video conference call spoke against AOC by pointing out that she supported primary challengers to their re-election campaigns:
On the video call, several Democrats called out Ocasio-Cortez’s efforts to help liberal challengers take out their own incumbents, as well as her refusal to pay party campaign dues.
“I’m taking into account who works against other members in primaries and who doesn’t,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said on the call, according to multiple sources. Cuellar successfully fended off a primary challenge from Jessica Cisneros, who Ocasio-Cortez supported.
In response to reports on the committee’s vote, Cisneros posted this jab at Cuellar. AOC responded to Cisneros by telling her that she didn’t regret her support for her and that it was “100% worth” losing the committee position if that indeed was the reason:
I just want you to know that supporting you was 100% worth it. If calling out anti-choice policies & holding institutions accountable for blocking working class women like you is a source of political retribution, I’m ok w/ that.
You’re amazing & I’m proud of you. Keep shining.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 18, 2020
There is speculation that the rejection of Ocasio-Cortez to being on the key committee might also have something to do with an interview she did just a few days ago in which she said the House and Senate need new Democrat leaders other than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
The progressive firebrand said it’s time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to go — but warned of a power vacuum that could be filled by “nefarious forces” who are “even more conservative” than the caucuses’ current leaders during a podcast interview on “The Intercept” that aired Thursday.
“I do think we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said. “I think one of the things that I have struggled with, I think that a lot of people struggle with, is the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there [are] very little options for succession.”
While that’s certainly a strong possibility considering Rice was denied a seat on the House Judiciary Committee in 2018 after opposing Pelosi’s bid to remain House Speaker, another possible factor is what some of those same House Democrats believe was AOC’s role in the drubbing the party took downballot last month.
Going into Election Day, pollsters, liberal pundits, prominent media figures, and Democrats all appeared confident that the party would make significant gains in the House. But when the losses began piling up, the finger-pointing and bickering began, starting with a tense conference call just two days later.
The two main takeaways from the call were that Democrats believed the party’s push for a Green New Deal, the rallying cries from the party’s progressive wing in favor of defunding the police, and embracing socialism hurt them in key House races. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) point-blank said on the call at the time that “If we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win” the two Georgia Senate runoff races that will take place on January 5th.
The unnamed villain on the call was Ocasio-Cortez, a self-admitted socialist who is one of the party’s most vocal proponents of defunding the police. She was also the co-sponsor for the Green New Deal and endorsed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primaries in large part due to his support for Medicare for All.
Whatever the case may be, if House Democrats think keeping her off the Energy and Commerce Committee will make her tone down her rhetoric, they are likely to be disappointed. Ocasio-Cortez is who she is, and if nothing else she’s demonstrated over the last two years that she likes to get louder in response to criticism, no matter which side of the aisle it comes from.
In fact, coveted committee assignment or not, AOC’s most powerful tools have always been her Instagram and Twitter accounts, which she uses as launching pads for her radical ideas, and battering rams almost daily against critics from all sides. Being shunned for the Energy Committee appointment is only going to make her louder on issues like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and the Fight for $15 campaign.
This will be bad news for establishment Democrats who would prefer she be more low profile going into the looming 2022 election battle and good news for Republicans who understand how much of a liability she’s become for Democrats in competitive districts, despite the mainstream media’s ongoing adoration for her.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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