Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will likely retain the House Speaker’s gavel by a very slim margin, and progressives are angry that Democratic Socialists — particularly members of the self-labeled “Squad” — are committed to casting ballots for Pelosi without negotiating for concessions from the current House Speaker.
In particular, progressives want Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to press for a vote on a “Medicare-for-All” plan, which both Pelosi and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden oppose.
Progressive radio host Jimmy Dore is leading the charge, demanding Ocasio-Cortez honor her earlier commitment to forcing a vote on “Medicare for All,” and suggesting that now when Pelosi is noticeably weakened, is a good time to press the issue.
“Progressives in congress CAN actually force a Med4all vote if they withhold their vote for Pelosi as speaker to do it,” Dore tweeted. “I ask all progressives to pressure ur favorite progressive congressperson to withhold their Vote 4 Pelosi & demand a Med4all vote!”
“The Plan that is BEST for Everyone is MEDICARE FOR ALL. 15 million Americans have lost there (sic) jobs and don’t have money to purchase insurance from your DONORS,” Dore added later, tagging Ocasio-Cortez. “Pressure your progressive representative to WITHHOLD THEIR VOTE UNTIL PELOSI HOLDS MED4ALL VOTE IN HOUSE!”
The radio host later doubled down, demanding to know why Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t engaging in public negotiations over the issue, and asking “what changed” in reference to the New York Democrat’s previous pledge to force a Medicare for All vote at the earliest opportunity.
The tweets started a snowball effect, with everyone from MSNBC anchor Krystal Ball to former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson joining the call to have progressives demand a Medicare for All vote in return for casting ballots to keep Nancy Pelosi in charge.
“I’m enjoying @jimmy_dore putting House progressives on the spot on how they aren’t demanding anything in return for giving Pelosi their vote for Speaker. He’s pointing out they have not organized a coherent political agenda,” activist Matt Stoller added, pointedly.
“Progressives should either become a coherent independent Dem faction or fully embrace what they effectively are, a loyal supportive faction of Democrats with no independent policy goals,” he added, directing his ire at Ocasio-Cortez, specifically.
Stoller and some others did object to asking for Medicare for All specifically, noting that few Democrats are interested in a plan to transition to a fully state-run health care system without a concrete plan in place. Instead, Stoller suggested a number of more achievable goals: changes to House procedure, committee positions, and freedom to pursue a policy agenda separate from the Democrat bloc.
Late Sunday night, Ocasio-Cortez finally responded to the campaign, claiming that she was engaged in “negotiations” over her vote for Speaker, but that she was obligated to keep those negotiations quiet.
“‘They aren’t demanding anything’ is an assumption – and a false one,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “These structural negotiations happen, they just aren’t live-tweeted. These negotiations started months ago, & include House rules, PAYGO exemptions, committee makeup, vote commitments, investigations, etc.”
She did not respond to repeated requests, in her mentions, for specifics about the negotiations themselves. Instead, she claimed that progressives are hamstrung by more moderate Democrats.
“Last term progs got the 1st-ever Congressional hearing in history on Medicare for All, allowing for markup,” she said. “That happened despite thrashing opposition from other Dems. But it goes both ways. Progs do withhold, but Conservative Dems also do to block. The numbers matter.”
Pelosi is facing an uphill battle to retain the Speaker’s gavel, as The Daily Wire reported earlier Monday. With a narrower Democrat margin and simmering concerns stemming from the November election — Democrats lost races and suffered in down-ballot elections — Pelosi is facing questions over her leadership. In response, she demanded loyalists return to Washington, D.C., for the in-person Speaker vote on January 3rd.
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