Progressive groups slam House Democratic leadership's 'escalating attacks' on progressives

Progressive groups slam House Democratic leadership's 'escalating attacks' on progressives
© Getty Images

A slate of progressive advocacy groups hammered top House Democrats Saturday for “escalating attacks on new leaders in the party” amid a feud between party leadership and new progressive members.

The intraparty dispute, which spilled into the public in recent days, was first started when House leadership took up a Senate-passed immigration bill progressives said did not include adequate safety standards for migrants held in government detention facilities.


“Just days after joining with Republicans to give Trump billions more to harm immigrant families, it’s deeply concerning that senior Democratic Party leaders and their aides have been escalating attacks on new leaders in the party who have been rightfully advocating a stronger approach to holding the Trump administration accountable to human rights abuses being committed on the border and against immigrants,” the groups said in a statement.

The statement was signed by Justice Democrats, Democracy for America, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, CREDO Action and several other prominent progressive groups.

“With ICE raids occurring this weekend, deaths of children at the border camps, and a continued blank check for the administration’s racist deportation machine, we will be focusing on the real crisis at hand and we urge Democratic leadership to do so as well,” they added. “Democratic leaders must fight to close the camps and hold ICE and CBP accountable.”

A spokesperson for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (D-Calif.) declined to comment to The Hill but pointed to a tweet in which Pelosi said she is phoning faith leaders in San Francisco to offer resources and spread awareness of migrants’ rights ahead of an expected Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation in several major cities to deport thousands of undocumented immigrants. 

The feud has largely been fought between Pelosi and her lieutenants versus a group of freshmen members of the House, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPoll: Voters split on whether it's acceptable for Israel to deny Omar, Tlaib visas NJ college censures trustee over posts targeting 'the squad' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarMaher hits back at Tlaib: Does she 'want to boycott 93 percent of her own party?' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' Trump ramps up attacks on Tlaib MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibMaher hits back at Tlaib: Does she 'want to boycott 93 percent of her own party?' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' Trump ramps up attacks on Tlaib MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna Pressley'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' Trump ramps up attacks on Tlaib Trump slams Tlaib after press conference on Israel ban: I don't buy her tears MORE (D-Mass.), known as the “squad.”

But, some members of the House Progressive Caucus have come to the freshmen’s aide in the dispute. 

The first shot was fired when Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, compared the centrist Blue Dog coalition to the segregationist Southern Democrats of the 1900s for supporting the immigration bill. 

Pelosi on Thursday said the tweet offended a number of Democrats and scolded her party at a closed-door meeting this week.

“So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our Members and expect us to think that that is just ok,” she said, according to a source in the room.

Following the stern lecture, Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with The Washington Post accused Pelosi of singling out women of color for criticism, seeming to refer to herself and her freshmen colleagues.

Pelosi said at a press briefing the next day that the closed-door meeting was called after members took offense to Chakrabarti’s remark but appeared intent to prevent the infighting from escalating.

"But I'm not going to be discussing it any further," Pelosi said. "I said what I'm going to say."

However, the House Democratic Caucus blasted Chakrabarti Friday night over his criticism of Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsOcasio-Cortez chief of staff to leave her office The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller testimony gives Trump a boost as Dems ponder next steps House Democrats delete tweets attacking each other, pledge to unify MORE (D-Kansas), who is Native American. Chakrabarti said Davids had taken votes that “enable a racist system.”

Progressives criticized the tweet online, saying it was hypocritical for the party to target Chakrabarti days after Pelosi told members not to publicly condemn individual colleagues.

The public feud has deepened the rifts within among House Democrats between centrists and progressives and between freshmen and leadership, with some worrying that the disputes could hinder unity on key pieces of legislation. 

"I don't really want to get into this back and forth. I would hope it would stop," House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Liberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry Lawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar MORE (D-Md.) told reporters on Thursday.