Amid an ongoing clash between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the House Democratic Caucus chided the freshman congresswoman’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, on Friday.
The caucus’ criticism of Chakrabarti centered on comments he made about Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) last month. In an exchange with a Twitter user, Chakrabarti charged that Davids was among a group of Democrats voting “as a block to criminalize immigrants.”
At that time, Davids had just voted to pass a bill for emergency federal appropriations for both humanitarian aid and security at the U.S.-Mexico border, meaning President Donald Trump’s wall. The only Democrats who voted against the House version of the bill were Ocasio-Cortez and her so-called squad of congressional newcomers: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). Critics of the measure argued it amounted to capitulation to the president and that it was a mistake to trust his administration’s use of the funds.
Davids has also voiced support for Dreamers and, in a political podcast last year, expressed a willingness to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a position typically associated with progressives like Ocasio-Cortez.
Doubling down on his criticism, Chakrabarti added, “I don’t believe Sharice is a racist person, but her votes are showing her to enable a racist system.”
In a public jab at the chief of staff, the House Democrats’ account posted a screenshot of Chakrabarti’s old tweet on Friday, asking why he was singling out Davids and telling him to “keep her name out of your mouth.” The account also accused him of “singling out a Native American woman of color.”
In defense of his past remarks, Chakrabarti noted that the screenshotted tweet had been part of a longer discussion. He also called Davids “a friend” and added that he wasn’t “interested in substance-less Twitter spats.”
The scuffle began earlier this week when Chakrabarti, in a tweet that has since been deleted, compared moderate Democrats to segregationists.
“Instead of ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal,’ let’s call the New Democrats and Blue Dog Caucus the ‘New Southern Democrats,’” he wrote. “They certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did the 40s.”
According to Politico, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), New Democrats’ vice chair for outreach and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, condemned the comparison.
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez has feuded with Pelosi, who dismissed the congresswoman and her allies.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi told The New York Times. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
Hitting back on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez wrote that the “public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment.”
Since then, the tit-for-tat has continued, though on Wednesday, Pelosi told her colleagues to stop tweeting their grievances about colleagues, NBC News reported.
It appears the advice was ignored by her caucus’ account.