Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) says she is working on a plan to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) with more progressive Democratic Party leaders.
The freshman lawmaker appeared on the latest episode of “Intercepted,” a left-wing podcast hosted by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, published on Wednesday. Scahill, referencing ongoing talks to provide another round of emergency aid to Americans, asked Ocasio-Cortez if Congress’s failure so far to pass another round of aid reflects poorly on Pelosi and Schumer.
“Isn’t this grounds, though, to take a stand and say, ‘No, I’m sorry. Nancy Pelosi should not be the speaker and Chuck Schumer should not be the leader?’” Scahill asked.
“I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez responded. Ocasio-Cortez has had a strained relationship with the House speaker since the New York Democrat won election in 2018. Ocasio-Cortez added that the issue hindering Democrats from replacing Pelosi is that nobody else is prepared to hold the position.
“I think one of the things that I have struggled with – I think that a lot of people struggle with – is the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there is very little option for succession,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think it’s easy for one to say, ‘Oh, well, you know, why don’t you run?’ but the House is extraordinarily complex and I’m not ready. It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job, and so even conservative members of the party who think Nancy Pelosi is far too liberal for them don’t necessarily have any viable alternatives.”
“Whenever there is a challenge, it kind of collapses, and that, I think, is the result of just many years of power being concentrated in leadership with lack of real grooming of next generation of leader,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Scahill again pressed Ocasio-Cortez if she is “ready to say Pelosi and Schumer need to go.”
“I think so,” Ocasio-Cortez responded. “The hesitancy that I have is that I want to make sure that if we’re pointing people in a direction, that we have a plan. And my concern — and this I acknowledge as a failing, as something that we need to sort out — is that there isn’t a plan. How do we fill that vacuum? Because if you create that vacuum, there are so many nefarious forces at play to fill that vacuum with something even worse.”
Pelosi is expected to win the speakership after Democrats elected her as their candidate for House speaker in November. Progressives have hammered Ocasio-Cortez to either refuse to support Pelosi’s bid to remain as speak of the House next term or to withhold voting for Pelosi until she pledges to hold a vote on progressive legislative priorities such as the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-All.
“They aren’t demanding anything’ is an assumption – and a false one. These structural negotiations happen, they just aren’t live-tweeted,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Sunday night, responding to a progressive campaign pressuring her to make demands of Pelosi in return for supporting her. “These negotiations started months ago, & include House rules, PAYGO exemptions, committee makeup, vote commitments, investigations, etc.”