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

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

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“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 PelosiVulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Photographer leaves Judiciary hearing after being accused of taking photos of member notes Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina 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-CortezTrump tweet mocking Greta Thunberg sparks backlash The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasts Tucker Carlson as 'white supremacist sympathizer' MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair 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 DavidsDemocrat representing Pennsylvania district Trump carried plans to vote to impeach  Vulnerable Democrats feel heat ahead of impeachment vote Sharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: 'The facts are uncontested' 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 HoyerOn The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA Lawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown Vulnerable Democrats feel heat ahead of impeachment vote MORE (D-Md.) told reporters on Thursday.