AOC says Pelosi needs to step down as speaker but insists she is not ‘ready’ to replace her


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on August 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on August 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that Democrats need to have a succession plan to replace House speaker Nancy Pelosi but she was not yet ready to step into that position herself.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez said the House was too “extraordinarily complex” for her, while asserting that the Democratic Party needs new leadership.

“I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept in an interview published on Wednesday.

“It’s easy for someone 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,” she said.

The remarks from the progressive congresswoman came as the Democrats are locked in an internal feud over the broader issue of the disappointing performance in the 2020 congressional race.

She said the party members who think Ms Pelosi is liberal don’t have “viable alternatives” to replace her “which is why whenever there’s a challenge, it kind of collapses.”

“And that is, I think, the result of just many years of power being concentrated in leadership with lack of… real grooming of a next generation of leadership,” she added.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez criticised the current leadership, saying they have failed to create a succession plan because of Ms Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer retaining the power for many years and there is no one to “fill that vacuum.”

“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,” she said. “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?”

Mr Schumer, 70, was re-elected last month as leader of the Democrats. Ms Pelosi, 80, was unanimously nominated to serve another two years as speaker. But the final votes in January will decide if she would retain the speaker’s gavel for her last term.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez said due to the absence of a plan, “nefarious forces” can come into play to fill the vacuum and those would be “more conservative” and “even worse”.

The congresswoman did not confirm whether she will vote against Ms Pelosi in January. A section of progressives has also backed her as a potential challenger to Mr Schumer in 2022, however, she avoided answering questions regarding this.

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