Was This Pelosi's Revenge on AOC for Calling for New Leadership?

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Posted: Dec 18, 2020 3:05 PM
Was This Pelosi's Revenge on AOC for Calling for New Leadership?

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Earlier this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to step down. Days later, Speaker Pelosi overlooked AOC for a coveted committee assignment. Payback? 

"I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party…the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there's very little option for succession," Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with The Intercept.

Fox News reports that Speaker Pelosi nominated four House Democrats to fill five open seats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But for the fifth seat, Pelosi held a secret ballot vote to choose between two New York representatives interested in the job, Reps. Kathleen Rice and Ocasio-Cortez. Rice was the popular choice by far, winning in a lopsided vote of 46-13. 

According to POLITICO, Rice and AOC have been fighting behind the scenes for weeks to nab a seat on the exclusive House Energy and Commerce Committee, which, according to its website, "has the broadest jurisdiction of any authorizing committee in Congress." It would be a powerful position for the Democratic socialist to push her Green New Deal policies in the early days of a Biden-Harris administration. 

Before the House voted to award the seat to Rice, several House Democrats aired grievances with Ocasio-Cortez and lobbied against her for the committee assignment. 

Several Democrats took issue with AOC's efforts to help liberal challengers take out incumbent Democrats as well as the congresswoman's refusal to pay party campaign dues. Some Democrats privately voiced concerns that AOC landing the seat would cause headaches for Congress attempting to draft bipartisan legislation.

"I'm taking into account who works against other members in primaries and who doesn't," Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX said on the call, sources told POLITICO. Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Cuellar's primary challenger, Jessica Cisneros.

Payback for bucking Democratic leadership is a lesson Rep. Rice, who was awarded the seat, also learned the hard way. Rice attempted to prevent Pelosi from leading House Democrats in the 116th Congress, only to then be denied her preferred seat on the House Judiciary Committee. Now, Rice has become a critical vote for Speaker Pelosi who must now contend with a smaller majority. 

The committee nominations must still go before the full Democratic Caucus but are expected to be approved.