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Pelosi seeks to downplay tensions with ‘the Squad’ after meeting with Ocasio-Cortez

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) poses with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y,) in a photo released by Pelosi’s office after they met Friday. (Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/via Reuters)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sought to minimize recent tensions over policy and tactics between her and four liberal minority congresswomen known as “the Squad” following a closed-door meeting Friday with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

“In our caucus, we have our differences. Respect that, rather than making a big issue of it,” Pelosi said at a news conference about two hours afterward. “Again, it’s like you’re in a family. In a family, you have your differences, but you’re still a family.”

She called Ocasio-Cortez “a very gracious member of Congress” and said there never was “any hatchet” that the two needed to bury.

“Some personality issues and the rest, they’re minor,” Pelosi said.

Speaking to reporters earlier, Pelosi said that her conversation with the freshman lawmaker covered “a range of issues” relative to her committee assignments and that they did not discuss Ocasio-Cortez’s recent contention that Pelosi had been “singling out” the four minority congresswomen for criticism in a way that is “outright disrespectful.”

Ocasio-Cortez downplays tensions between Pelosi and ‘the Squad’

After the meeting, Pelosi tweeted a picture of her standing next to Ocasio-Cortez, with both smiling.

Ocasio-Cortez spoke only briefly to reporters later Friday after leaving a committee room.

“I’m looking forward to us continuing our work, and as always, I think the speaker respects the fact that we’re coming together as a party and a community,” Ocasio-Cortez said as she headed to an elevator.

She declined to answer a question about whether she and Pelosi talked about dismissive comments Pelosi has made about “the Squad,” which also includes Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who emerged from the committee room at the same time as Ocasio-Cortez, said he was heartened by the meeting.

“First of all, I had an opportunity to meet with Ms. Cortez briefly to inquire as to how the meeting went with the speaker, and she said it was a great meeting,” said Cummings, a Pelosi ally. “And that it was just a good feeling — a good feeling about it — and she’s moving forward. I know the speaker is too.”

In an interview earlier this month with the New York Times, Pelosi said that the four “didn’t have any following,” citing their lonely votes in late June against a Democratic-crafted bill to address the southern border crisis. She has also made other remarks dismissing the group and their far-left proposals on the environment and health care.

In an interview earlier this month with The Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez voiced frustration with Pelosi.

“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. “But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”

In the wake of Trump’s tweets last week suggesting the four lawmakers should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Democrats have rallied around them and strongly condemned Trump.

Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.

All Democrats in the chamber voted last week for a resolution condemning Trump’s tweets. They were joined by four Republicans and one independent.

In an interview last week with CBS News, Ocasio-Cortez said there was not a “fundamental fracture” between Pelosi and “the Squad.”

Omar, who was part of the joint interview, also said, “I don’t feel a fracture.”

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