Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., fired back on Thursday at Democratic colleagues who suggested she and other members of the progressive squad had weakened the party by dragging it too far to the left.
“As soon as the election was over … we have seen the pundits and some of the leaders within the Democratic Party, or even some of our colleagues, who are freshmen, talk about us getting back to basics — saying you know, the squad — Alex[andria Ocasio-Cortez], Ilhan, Rashida [Tlaib], all of you have to stop talking about everything you talk about, because we need to get back to basics,” Omar said at a rally at Capitol Hill.
“So, I was confused because I thought what is more basic than fighting for clean water? What is more basic than fighting for a breathable planet? What is more basic than trying to make sure we get health care for people?” she asked, before adding a litany of other causes.
Her comments were the latest salvo in what appeared to be an ongoing civil war that intensified after Democrats saw disappointing results down ballot in the 2020 elections. Observers have blamed the losses on pushing policies like the Green New Deal and “Medicare for all,” which exceed the cost and scope of other policies pursued by moderate Democrats.
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The moderate vs. progressive divide erupted during a caucus call just days after the election, where Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., urged the party to stay away from ideas typically associated with the left flank of her party. Spanberger was particularly animated and yelled during the call, Fox News confirmed. She told her colleagues: “We lost races we shouldn’t have lost. Defund the police almost cost me my race because of an attack ad. Don’t say socialism ever again. We need to get back to basics.”
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., similarly said if “we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win,” his office confirmed.
“People will talk about kitchen table issues,” Omar said on Thursday, “and everything that we fight for, to me, is what my family discusses at the kitchen table — that is what your family discusses at the kitchen table.”
The 38-year-old House member added that “this movement is so exciting because we know a Green New Deal is not just some platitude, it’s not just some conversation that’s cooked up in the basement of some corporation. This is a conversation — a movement that’s built out of the urgency that people feel in wanting to protect our climate and our planet.”
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Other fractures in the Democrats’ coalition have emerged, despite Omar previously describing the party as a “big family.”
“When you think about our party, Speaker Pelosi always says we are a big tent, and that means that we are a big family,” she told MSNBC. “We all have our own constituencies that we have to serve. We are part of a caucus working on behalf of the people. We think of ourselves as the party of the people.”
However, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., has said she won’t support Nancy Pelosi’s bid to serve as Speaker of the House again.
A Democratic source told Fox News earlier this month “there’s absolutely no accountability from the speaker.”
“We should have won big but you know, the defund the police issue, the Green New Deal — those issues killed our members,” according to the source, “Having everybody walk the plank on qualified immunity with the cops. That just hurt a lot of members. No one’s taking responsibility for it.”
It appeared as though the divide would deepen as the “squad’s” ranks grew after this month’s election.
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Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who co-sponsored the ambitious Green New Deal, hailed as “reinforcements” certain congressmen-elects. Freshmen like Cori Bush of Missouri, Jamaal Bowman of New York, and Mondaire Jones of New York, have all been highlighted as progressive newcomers.
“Cori, and Jamaal, and Mondaire all represent this revolution changing the way in which people see the issue of climate change in our lives,” said Markey who won reelection to a second term, “This isn’t a matter of moving to the left. It’s a matter of doing what’s right.”