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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 PelosiTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump lashes out at Pelosi as she visits Jordan to discuss Syria Thomas D'Alesandro III, brother of Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90 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-CortezOcasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOcasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez mourns Cummings: 'A devastating loss for our country' Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Omar endorses Sanders presidential bid 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 DavidsHere are the Democrats who aren't co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban Centrist House Democrats press for committees to follow pay-go rule Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff to leave her office 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 HoyerHouse Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Scalise, Cole introduce resolution to change rules on impeachment Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg defends handling of misinformation in political ads | Biden camp hits Zuckerberg over remarks | Dem bill would jail tech execs for lying about privacy | Consumer safety agency accidentally disclosed personal data MORE (D-Md.) told reporters on Thursday.