House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced on Sunday that she intends to run for Speaker once again if Democrats retain the House majority in the November election.
The unofficial leader of the progressive movement within the House, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), responded to the news by refusing to explicitly back Pelosi for Speaker again — signaling that Pelosi may be facing an uphill battle for control of the House.
Though Pelosi has been attacked by the GOP for her unrelenting opposition to Trump and commitment to obstructing GOP legislation during her tenure as speaker, Pelosi faces a growing contingent of legislators that believe that she isn’t far-left enough.
When directly asked about whether she would support Pelosi’s intention of running for a second term as Speaker, Ocasio-Cortez said she would only support Pelosi if she was the “most progressive” candidate running for the seat.
“I believe that we have to see those races as they come, see what candidates are there,” Ocasio-C0rtez hedged. “I am committed to making sure that we have the most progressive candidate there.”
“But if Speaker Pelosi is that most progressive candidate, then I will be supporting her,” Ocasio-Cortez admitted.
Pelosi and the freshman Congresswoman have been quietly at odds since the 2018 election, and though they’ve remained cordial, Ocasio-Cortez has made it clear on multiple occasions that Pelosi is too committed to the establishment to satisfy House progressives.
Losing her grip
Nancy Pelosi faced a difficult race in her first attempt for Speaker of the House, with many Democrats to her left concerned about her willingness to advance their progressive agenda.
Their fears have largely been realized during the 116th Congress, but Pelosi’s tenacious opposition to Donald Trump at every turn has kept House Democrats from an outright revolt.
Pelosi told CNN”s Jake Tapper on Sunday that she intends to run for another term as Speaker in 2021, but did not expand on her plans for the future. She pledged in 2018 that if she was elected Speaker at the time, she would only serve two terms — making the 117th Congress her final stint — unless she chooses to scrap the pledge.
If Joe Biden wins the White House in November, Pelosi will lose her status as the most powerful Democrat in Washington and will remain in that position after her second term as Speaker expires.
Young progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and dozens of other “Democratic socialist” representatives like her may not quite be ready to openly challenge Pelosi’s authority and leadership, but it won’t be long until the power struggle boils to the surface.