Democrats have maintained control over the House of Representatives since 2018, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been campaigning on and off-screen to ensure that doesn’t change come Nov. 3. But even if Democrats do manage to hang onto the House after November’s elections, the decades-long California congresswoman may soon find herself having to give up the speaker’s gavel.
According to a Sunday report from the Washington Examiner, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) refused to say definitely this weekend if Pelosi has her backing for House speaker. The remarks from Ocasio-Cortez came just hours after Pelosi confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper that she will be seeking the speakership again in the new year, so long as she wins re-election and Dems hold onto their majority in the lower chamber.
“If Speaker Pelosi runs again, as she just indicated she will if the Democrats keep the House, will you support her?” Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday, as the Examiner reported.
Only the most progressive
The progressive congresswoman responded by insisting that Democrats should focus on keeping their majority before worrying about leadership.
“I want to make sure that we win the House,” Ocasio-Cortez, who is also up for re-election this November, said, according to the Examiner. “I do believe that we will, but it’s critically important that we are supporting Democrats in tight swing races, making sure that not only all of them come back but that we grow our majority.”
Once Election Day is done and over, Ocasio-Cortez says she’s “committed to making sure that we have the most progressive candidate” in the speaker’s seat.
“I believe that we have to see those races as they come, see what candidates are there,” she told Tapper, as the Examiner reported. “If Speaker Pelosi is that most progressive candidate, then I will be supporting her.”
A rocky relationship
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments echo remarks she made back in 2018, when she caused a stir by not throwing her full support behind Pelosi from the get-go. By the end of November of that year, however, Ocasio-Cortez had made up her mind to back Pelosi, so long as she was “the most progressive candidate” for the role.
“So long as Leader Pelosi remains the most progressive candidate for Speaker, she can count on my support,” AOC tweeted at the time, according to The Hill.
But it hasn’t been all smooth-sailing from there. The two Democrats have clashed numerous times since then, including when Pelosi endorsed New York Democrat Rep. Joe Kennedy III in his recent primary challenge against Sen. Ed Markey, as Forbes‘ Jack Brewster reported. Ocasio-Cortez called Pelosi out publicly over the endorsement in an August tweet, declaring, “No one gets to complain about primary challenges again.”
The young congresswoman also implied last year that the speaker’s criticism of her and other members of her so-called “Squad” was rooted in racism. “When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” she said in an interview with The Washington Post. “But the persistent singling out…it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful…the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
It remains to be seen whether Pelosi and AOC will each remain in Congress long enough to patch up what has clearly been a rocky relationship.