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House Democrats move to tamp down internal feud, delete tweets that sparked infighting

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), the House Democratic Caucus chair, is accompanied by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), the caucus vice chair, at a news conference on Capitol Hill on July 10. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

House Democrats are moving to quiet the searing internal feud that threatened to spin out of control last week — starting with the deletion of explosive tweets that helped spark the infighting and a joint statement of unity.

The detente is expected to continue next week, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tentatively scheduled to meet Thursday with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — the most prominent member of the four-member “Squad” of liberal freshman female lawmakers.

A House Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the makings of the truce, called it a “collective de-escalation” — one taking place at the end of a week that saw President Trump’s attacks on Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ocasio-Cortez unite Democrats behind a House resolution condemning his racist remarks.

Trump says he disagrees with ‘send her back’ chant directed at Rep. Omar during his rally despite his previous ‘go back’ tweet

The leaders of the House Democratic Caucus and three ideological subcaucuses — the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Coalition — issued a joint statement Thursday calling their united ranks a “diverse, robust and passionate family” that is “dedicated to making life better for everyday Americans.”

“At times, there may be different perspectives on the way forward. That is a hallmark of the legislative process,” the statement continued. “We will remain clear-eyed with respect to our unity of purpose. Every single voice within the House Democratic Caucus is an important one. We have a shared mission. Onward and upward.”

Among the deleted tweets was an attack by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), a CPC co-chair and signer of the statement, on the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus, which worked last month to favor passage of a bipartisan Senate-written border security bill over a House alternative.

“Since when did the Problem Solvers Caucus become the Child Abuse Caucus?” Pocan asked in the June 27 tweet, which was deleted Wednesday. Ron Boehmer, a Pocan spokesman, confirmed the deletion.

Another came from the Twitter account of the House Democratic Caucus, under the direction of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and his staff. That message included an image of a tweet from Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, suggesting that a fellow freshman, Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), had voted to “enable a racist system” by supporting the Senate border bill.

“Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color?” read the House Democrats’ tweet, sent late Friday night.

According to the aide, the five Democratic leaders — Jeffries, Pocan, fellow CPC co-chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), New Democrats chair Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Blue Dog chair Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) — agreed over the course of several conversations this week to “issue a reset” and present a united front against Trump and Republicans. The deletions of the tweets, the aide said, were a gesture of goodwill to begin that effort.

House Democrats’ racially charged infighting escalates

One unaddressed dispute centers on Pelosi and the four female freshman lawmakers. On several occasions, most recently in an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Pelosi seemed to question their political influence and suggested the four had “no following” inside the House.

In a subsequent interview with The Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez voiced frustration with Pelosi, accusing her of a “persistent singling out” that “got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”

The Thursday meeting is expected to smooth over tensions further, and Ocasio-Cortez this week made new remarks minimizing any split with Pelosi.

“Just as there were members of Congress that did not vote for the speaker on the House floor the day of our swearing in, just as there are members who challenge her conclusions, who disagree with her, so do we from time to time, but that does not mean that there is a fundamental fracture or a dehumanizing going on within our caucus,” she said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.”

Rachael Bade contributed to this report.

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