In a rare moment of unity, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she would support Rep. Matt Gaetz’s efforts to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership position.
“It’s not up to Democrats to save Republicans from themselves,” the New York congresswoman said when Jake Tapper asked if she would vote to keep McCarthy as speaker, adding that Democrats wouldn’t support him “for nothing.”
“I think Kevin McCarthy is a very weak speaker,” she said. “He clearly has lost control of his caucus. He brought the United States and millions of Americans to the brink, waiting until the final hour to keep the government open and even then only issuing a 45-day extension, so we’re going to be right back in this place in November.”
Late Saturday night, Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed a 45-day funding bill to keep the government open and avoid forcing millions of Americans, including members of the military, to go without pay. More Democrats in both the House and Senate voted to keep the government open than Republicans.
“The Republican Party is completely out of touch with the American people… We saw them go through every possible iteration of cutting benefits,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the budget negotiations. “They tried to cut across the board 30 percent of the budgets of critical agencies like the Social Security Administration. Some of the most ‘moderate’ members of the Republican Party casted votes for things like 80 percent cuts under the Department of Education to low income schools. This is not a moderate party period. There are not moderates in the Republican Party. There are just different degrees of fealty to Donald Trump.”
The congresswoman quipped that in attempting to avert a shutdown Republicans were “run[ning] around the House like a Roomba, until they found a door that House Democrats opened. They finally realized that we should not shut down the government in order to deny trans service members the ability to get healthcare, in order to deny female service members the ability to get an abortion.”
Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez about a moment over the weekend when Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm during a vote, triggering an investigation by Capitol Police. Bowman said that he pulled the alarm accidentally while trying to open a locked door that was usually left unlocked. “I will be honest. That doesn’t really make sense to me, his explanation. Have you talked to him? What’s going on there?” Tapper asked.
Ocasio-Cortez defended her colleague. “I think if you actually do see some of the photos of the signs, I think there’s something to be said about, the government’s about to shut down, there’s a vote clock that’s going down, the exits that are normally open in that building were suddenly closed… He’s fully participating [in the investigation].”
She added that Republicans “immediately moved to file motions to censure” as well as “motions to expel” Bowman from the House “before there have even been conversations that are finished to even see if there was a misunderstanding here.”
Ocasio-Cortez pointed out the hypocrisy in their speed to act considering one of their own members of Congress, Rep. George Santos, who has been indicted on 13 federal charges “on everything from wire fraud to actual lying of House investigators.” Santos has pled not guilty.
“They have been buddying up and giggling with [Santos] on the House floor,” she added. “They are protecting someone who has lied to the American people, lied to the United States House of Representatives, lied to congressional investigators. But they’re filing a motion to expel a member who, in a moment of panic, was trying to escape a vestibule? Give me a break.”
“There’s another Republican who’s been indicted also that they have been defending, but we don’t have the time to go into all of those charges, 91 of them,” Tapper responded, referencing Donald Trump’s numerous legal woes.