Ocasio-Cortez agrees that it's time to bounce Schumer, Pelosi out of their powerful posts

"Lack of real grooming on next generation of leadership."

Updated: December 16, 2020 - 4:10pm

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Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has never seemed like a big fan of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership. And now the firebrand progressive sounds as if she doesn't much likes how Chuck Schumer, another fellow Democrats, leads in the Senate.

"We need new leadership in the Democratic Party," Ocasio-Cortez said during a podcast with The Intercept on Wednesday. 

The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill asked Ocasio-Cortez whether Congress’s failure to pass COVID-19 relief this year should be blamed on Pelosi and Schumer.

"Isn’t this grounds ... to take a stand and say, 'No, I’m sorry. Nancy Pelosi should not be the speaker and Chuck Schumer should not be the leader?' " Scahill asked.

Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,”

The New York lawmaker has had a strained relationship with the House speaker since she was first elected in 2018, largely because her progressive agenda, headlined by her "Green New Deal" energy plan – is too extreme even for Pelosi, as San Francisco liberal.

In the interview, the 31-year-old Ocasio-Cortez also argued the challenge with replacing top leaders in the Democratic congressional conference is that nobody is prepared to take over.

“I think one of the things that I have struggled with – I think that a lot of people struggle with – is the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there is very little option for succession,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“I think it’s easy for one to say, ‘Oh, well, you know, why don’t you run?’ but the House is extraordinarily complex, and I’m not ready. It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job, and so even conservative members of the party who think Nancy Pelosi is far too liberal for them don’t necessarily have any viable alternatives.”

“Whenever there is a challenge, it kind of collapses. And that, I think, is the result of just many years of power being concentrated in leadership with lack of real grooming of next generation of leader,” the New York democratic socialist said.

Scahill then asked if she is “ready to say Pelosi and Schumer need to go.”

“I think so,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The hesitancy that I have is that I want to make sure that if we’re pointing people in a direction, that we have a plan. And my concern – and this I acknowledge as a failing, as something that we need to sort out – is that there isn’t a plan. How do we fill that vacuum? Because if you create that vacuum, there are so many nefarious forces at play to fill that vacuum with something even worse.”

Pelosi, 80, cruised to reelection as speaker in a virtual caucus vote last month, despite House Democrats surprising losses in November. While she did not face any challenges, Pelosi will need to win a simple majority – 218 Democratic votes – by the full House when Congress reconvenes in January.

Schumer also sailed to reelection as Democratic leader of the Senate without facing any in-party challenges.

Ocasio-Cortez did acknowledge that there are few good alternatives right now because the party's current leaders have concentrated power in leadership "with a lack of real grooming on next generation of leadership."

"My concern – and I acknowledge this as a failing, as something that we need to sort out – is that there isn't a plan," she said. "How do we fill that vacuum? Because if you create that vacuum, there are so many nefarious forces at play to fill that vacuum with something even worse. And so, the actual sad state of affairs is that there are folks more conservative than even they are willing to kind of fill that void." 

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