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Two Political Foes Were Seen Chatting on the House Floor. What Were They Discussing?

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Keen observers of Tuesday's three failed speaker votes noticed something else noteworthy that happened on the House floor—two political enemies were chatting cordially with one another. 

That's right—Progressive Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York was seen talking to anti-McCarthy GOP Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida. Gosar, you'll remember, was censured and stripped of his committee assignments for sharing an animated video on Nov. 7, 2021, depicting him killing her.

"In chaos, anything is possible," she told MSNBC, explaining that the discussion was about what Democrats might do amid the ongoing Speakership vote, including whether any might "defect" to support Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Ocasio-Cortez said Democrats are united around House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker. 

"I think what was important today was to send the message that we were united behind Hakeem Jeffries as the now-minority leader, or as the leader of the Democrats, in that there would be no defections, that Democrats are here, we're not going anywhere," she said. 

"If they want to play ball, we're open to that," the progressive added. 

Ocasio-Cortez also floated the idea of a "coalition government."

"I do not believe that Kevin McCarthy has the votes. I believe that a lot of the opposition to him is very personal. I believe his leadership style is incompatible with a lot of Republican members and certainly the Democratic Caucus," Ocasio-Cortez said. 

"So the question is, is there anyone in their caucus that can build that consensus? If there isn't, McCarthy's team may have to come to the Democratic Party. And, if that's the case, then what would that even look like? It's rather unprecedented. Could it result in a potential coalition government?" she wondered. "Could we get Democratic chairs of committees as a result?" 

She emphasized this is purely speculation. 

"I'm not saying necessarily that our party is signaling an openness just yet," she said. "But, really, it's about the cards that are in McCarthy's hands. And if he chooses to approach the Democratic Caucus, then that would be a negotiation, in and of itself, for a potential coalition government. But, again, this is very much an unprecedented time." 

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