Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for the Democratic Party’s congressional leaders to step down and leave their spots for the “next generation” leaders.
The New York congresswoman hasn’t been shy in criticizing members of her own party, but this is the first time aiming directly at party leadership.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70, was reelected to be the leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus in November, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 80, is expected to retain her role in the House, but she has said it would be her last term in the leadership position.
AOC, who was recently reelected for the first time, told the Intercept that “We need new leadership in the Democratic Party.”
“A lot of this is not just about these two personalities but also about the structural shifts that these two personalities have led in their time in leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The structural shifts of power in the House, both in process and rule, to concentrate power in party leadership of both parties, frankly, but in Democratic Party leadership to such a degree that an individual member has far less power than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago.”
She said this drives the “really talented members of Congress that do come along” to leave office or run for noncongressional offices. Ocasio-Cortez also argued that party leadership hasn’t done any “real grooming of a next generation of leadership,” which is why there are no viable replacements.
Pelosi won her party’s nomination to run for speaker in a voice vote taken virtually in November, although she will have to win an election on the House floor in the first week in January, which will require a nearly unanimous Democratic vote.
Noting Pelosi’s expected to step back from party leadership, Ocasio-Cortez said, “The Left isn’t really making a plan for that, either,” adding, “So, I do think that it’s something that we really need to think about.”
“I think one of the things that I have struggled with — I think that a lot of people struggle with — is [that] the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there’s very little option for succession, if you will,” she continued.
Ocasio-Cortez also ruled herself out from running for speaker, saying, “The House is extraordinarily complex, and I’m not ready. It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job.”