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 PelosiAirline industry applauds Democrats for including aid in coronavirus relief package Democrats unveil scaled-down .2T coronavirus relief package Trump tax reveal roils presidential race 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 Jr on father's taxes: 'People don't understand what goes into a business' Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar urges Democrats to focus on nonvoters over 'disaffected Trump voters' Omar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTrump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' George Conway: 'Trump is like a practical joke that got out of hand' Pelosi endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary challenge MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyEnding the Hyde Amendment is no longer on the backburner Fauci, Black Lives Matter founders included on Time's 100 Most Influential People list Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' 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 DavidsTrump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report Races heat up for House leadership posts GOP leader says he doesn't want Chamber's endorsement: 'They have sold out' 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 HoyerThe House's stake in filibuster reform Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power MORE (D-Md.) told reporters on Thursday.