Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) blasted New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's remarks implying that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is racist.
What's the background?
In questionable Wednesday remarks, Ocasio-Cortez implied that Pelosi criticism toward congresswomen is racially motivated.
The freshman congresswoman told the Washington Post that she felt that the speaker was denigrating women of different racial and cultural backgrounds.
"I kind of thought that [Pelosi] was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm's distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood," Ocasio-Cortez said about Pelosi. "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."
Pelosi reportedly told Democrats during a closed-door Wednesday meeting, "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 is just OK."
During a Thursday news conference, Pelosi responded to the controversy surrounding the congresswoman's remarks.
"I've said what I'm going to say in the caucus," she said. "That's where this is appropriate, and I said what I'm going to say in the caucus."
"They took offense because I addressed, at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the member's offices that referenced our Blue Dogs and new Southern Democrats essentially as segregationists," she explained, pointing to a since-deleted tweet by an Ocasio-Cortez staffer.
Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, criticized the Blue Dogs, calling them the "New Southern Democrats," according to the New York Post. Chakrabarti tweeted, "They certainly seem hell-bent to do black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s." The tweet no longer exists on Chakrabarti's feed.
Pelosi also addressed Ocasio-Cortez and others in the freshman congresswoman "squad" — including Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Minn.), Ilhan Omar (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) — directing them to avoid using social media to solve squabbles.
"Our members took offense at that," Pelosi said of Chakrabarti's tweet. "I addressed that. What I said in the caucus yesterday had an overwhelming response from my members, because they know what the facts are and what we're responding to."
What did Crenshaw say?
On Thursday, Crenshaw chalked Ocasio-Cortez's behavior up to identity politics and sympathized with Pelosi's frustration.
Crenshaw tweeted, "Madam Speaker, welcome to the true nature of identity politics — where you're accused of being racist for no reason at all, and where intellectually lazy insults are used against you as a way to replace substantive debate of your argument or idea."
On Thursday, the Justice Democrats — a progressive PAC that helped to elect Ocasio-Cortez to Congress — attacked Pelosi for the remarks and doubled down on Ocasio-Cortez's suggestion of racism on the speaker's part.
An email from the organization said, in part, "We cannot believe that Pelosi doesn't realize how bad of a precedent this is. She's singling out four new leaders who are progressive women of color, and are already under constant attack by Fox News, racists, and conservatives at large."
"But honestly, the most infuriating part about this stems from who's getting the blame for rocking the boat," the letter continued. "Conservative Democrats who are members of the 'problem solvers caucus' blew up Pelosi's own border bill, and threatened to revolt if we didn't hand over ICE and border patrol a $4.6 billion blank check. Understandably, the squad wasn't too happy about that."
The message concluded, "Here's our fundamental problem: there are 235 Democrats in the House, and 200 Republicans. That means that it only takes 18 Democrats to kill a bill, and get their way. There are 18+ conservative Dems who are willing to use that leverage — but we do not have 18 progressives willing to do the same. But if we buckle down, organize like hell, and fight for progressive Justice Democrats across the country, maybe we will in 2020."