Exclusive: AOC says Republican chaos shows how reasonable progressives like the Squad are

‘I mean I think it just highlights how how extraordinarily bad faith those accusations of progressive unreasonableness are, even when they come from our side of the aisle’

Eric Garcia
Friday 06 January 2023 10:32 GMT
Comments
AOC appears to talk cordially with congressman who posted anime video of her assassination

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has told The Independent that Republicans’ chaotic efforts to elect a Speaker for the new Congress are serving to highlight how grounded and reasonable she and other members of the so-called Squad of progressive Democrats have been.

Throughout much of her time in Congress, the self-described democratic socialist has heard herself and other progressives described as “unreasonable.” Former-representative Stephanie Murphy even called the coterie of Democrats “the never enough caucus” during negotiations about the bipartisan infrastructure bill and passing Build Back Better.

But against the background of repeated failed attempts by the Republicans to elect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker in the face of hard-right GOP opposition, AOC pointed out that many of the debates she was involved in with fellow Democrats were about actual policy. By comparison, House Republicans are mostly united on their goals, while they differ on the tactics and the rules governing the House of Representatives.

The current crisis has already forced the House to go three days without having a Speaker.

Speaking just off the House floor on Thursday evening, Ms Ocasio-Cortez told The Independent that despite all the criticisms of her and her colleagues, the current GOP deadlock shows just how reasonable she and progressives are.

“I mean I think it just highlights how how extraordinarily bad faith those accusations of progressive unreasonableness are, even when they come from our side of the aisle,” she said.

“I think, whether you're Democrat, Republican or independent, what this whole episode really indicates and shows us is, again, just how bad faith and substantive some substance-less the argument and accusation is that progressives are, are just as bad as, as these insurrectionists Republicans.”

That doesn’t mean that progressives don’t fight when they think it is necessary, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has at times been pictured laughing on the House floor during the Republican impasse – but she says there are serious downsides to the failure to elect a Speaker
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has at times been pictured laughing on the House floor during the Republican impasse – but she says there are serious downsides to the failure to elect a Speaker (AP)

“When we make demands and pull the line on something, it is based on policy on substance, and something that frankly, usually every time has a path of possibility,” she said. “We offer a Plan B and we look at the reality and push us Yes, push as hard as we can. But we also have an understanding of what is best for the country.”

But beyond the theatrics and comedic aspect, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said that she worried about the fact the impasse could make it harder to govern.

“The more days that this goes on the more this truly starts to have a corrosive impact on our country,” she said. “Right now, members of Congress because we were not sworn in, we do not have we do not have access to our security clearances, or liaising capacities with that with agencies like the IRS or [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services]. We cannot conduct constituent casework to the same extent that we would otherwise and as a result, the longer this goes on, the more real impact there is and the more people are going to suffer.”

Kevin McCarthy’s failed bids to become Speaker reached double figures on Thursday evening
Kevin McCarthy’s failed bids to become Speaker reached double figures on Thursday evening (REUTERS)

Ms Ocasio-Cortez entered Congress in 2019 after she defeated House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley in a primary. But this term will be the first time that she will be serving in the minority, which means her role will be much different.

Still, she said that in some ways, she and other members of the Squad – which includes Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri – will be able to “flex” their messaging and have more time and latitude to go on offense against Republicans.

“When you're in the majority, you're you're focused on spending a lot of your time on governance and we understand that the windows that we are in the majority are very precious time,” she said.

Despite the fact that Ms Ocasio-Cortez occasionally clashed with former speaker Nancy Pelosi, she still voted for her nomination and worked with her. Conversely, she has butted heads with fellow New Yorker Hakeem Jeffries, who has been more outspoken in his criticism of left-wing Democrats at times.

Matt Gaetz calls Kevin McCarthy 'desperate' amid bid to become House speaker

But Ms Ocasio-Cortez has joined every member of the Democratic caucus in voting for Mr Jeffries’s nomination as speaker.

“I think, right now, all of our central focus is making sure that we stay united as a caucus and identify what the bigger issue is right now, which is ensuring that we stave off a lot of the the negative and corrosive impacts of Republican legislation,” she said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in