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Top Democrat launches attack on AOC after she endorses primary rival to anti-abortion congressman

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The House majority leader said Wednesday that there is ‘absolutely’ room in the Democratic Party for anti-abortion lawmakers.

Steny Hoyer made the comments the day after freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed a candidate challenging an incumbent Democrat who has stood by several anti-abortion positions.

‘Absolutely, there’s room in our party,’ Hoyer told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday, warning Democrats of potentially excluding moderates from the party.

‘That doesn’t mean we’re not a pro-choice party — we are,’ he continued. ‘But that doesn’t mean that … either the Speaker or I believe that we ought to exclude people who have a different view.’

The No. 2 House Democrat added that the pro-choice stance has been included in the party’s platform.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that there is 'absolutely' room in the Democratic Party for anti-Abortion positions

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that there is ‘absolutely’ room in the Democratic Party for anti-Abortion positions

His comments came a day after freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed a liberal candidate running against moderate establishment Democrat Dan Lipinski ¿ who has served in the House since 2005

His comments came a day after freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed a liberal candidate running against moderate establishment Democrat Dan Lipinski – who has served in the House since 2005

Ocasio-Cortez's first endorsement of a Democrat challenging an incumbent comes as she calls for a 'bigger, stronger Democratic Party'

Ocasio-Cortez’s first endorsement of a Democrat challenging an incumbent comes as she calls for a ‘bigger, stronger Democratic Party’

Democrat Dan Lipinski, who has held office since 2005, narrowly beat his primary challenger Marie Newman in the 2018 midterm elections, edging her out with only 2.2 per cent more of the vote.

But this time around, Ocasio-Cortez is put her powerful endorsement behind Newman, a liberal, in her second consecutive run to take on the moderate establishment Democrat.

‘It’s going to take a bigger, stronger Democratic Party—one that’s returned to our FDR roots & fights for working people—to change our future in 2020,’ Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

‘We can’t afford deep blue seats fighting against healthcare & equal rights. We need @Marie4Congress,’ she continued, tagging Newman’s congressional campaign account.

Lawmakers endorsing opponents to sitting colleagues is very rare, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have adopted a policy of backing the party’s incumbents without exception.

Both Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, progressives who are running for president in 2020, are also backing Newman this year.

Marie Newman

Illinois Representative Dan Lipinksi (D)

Marie Newman (left) is making her second consecutive run against Dan Lipinski (right), who has supported several anti-abortion positions. In 2018 Lipinski narrowly maintained his seat, earning only 2.2 per cent more than Newman within the party

Lipinski shot back at Ocasio-Cortez's powerful endorsement, claiming it solidified that Newman is 'running as an extremist'

Lipinski shot back at Ocasio-Cortez’s powerful endorsement, claiming it solidified that Newman is ‘running as an extremist’

Lipinski shot back at Ocasio-Cortez following her endorsement.

‘The voters of Illinois’ Third District do not want to be represented by a fifth member of the ‘Squad,” he said in a statement, referencing Ocasio-Cortez and three other freshmen members of Congress: Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanne Pressley.

The four dubbed themselves ‘the squad,’ which was quickly adopted, after they became the center of Donald Trump’s ire.

‘The Democratic Party — and our country — cannot afford an obstructionist ‘Tea Party of the Left’ when we need to focus on winning this next election and passing policies that will truly help working families and all who are struggling in America today,’ Lipinksi said.

He also said the endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez should prove to voters that Newman is running as an ‘extremist.’

‘It should now be clear to all that Marie Newman is running as an extremist,’ Lipinski tweeted Tuesday. ‘I am a leader with commonsense plans to lower healthcare costs and fight climate change.’

Pelosi and Lipinski are both Catholic, and Pelosi has before defended the party remaining inclusive on the divisive abortion issue.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has agreed with Hoyer on abortion, claiming it should not be a so-called 'litmus test' within the party. She and Ocasio-Cortez have been at odds this year, creating a rift within the caucus between progressives and moderates

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has agreed with Hoyer on abortion, claiming it should not be a so-called ‘litmus test’ within the party. She and Ocasio-Cortez have been at odds this year, creating a rift within the caucus between progressives and moderates

‘She said, ‘You know, I have a lot of people in my family who disagree with me. You think I’m going to exclude them from my party?” Hoyer relayed while speaking at the Capitol Wednesday. ‘I thought that was a perfect answer, and one with which I agree. And I think our party agrees.’

Some other Democrats, however, have called on abortion to be a litmus test within the party.

Hoyer added that inter-party fighting would not be helpful in the 2020 elections as they seek to retain control of the House.

‘We want to see the party as unified as possible,’ Hoyer said. ‘We think it’s very important to keep the majority, obviously, not just because we want to be in the majority, but because the values that the parties reflect [are] very, very disparate — as disparate as I’ve seen it in my entire career.’

During a closed-door meeting with House Democrats in March, Ocasio-Cortez threatened to put moderates within the party ‘on a list’ as they took on primary challenges. She specifically said she would help liberal activists unseat the more moderate members.

This endorsement could be her first act to get those on her ‘list’ booted from Congress in 2020. 

Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez have been at odds since January 2019, when the new class was sworn in as Democrats took back control of the lower chamber of Congress.

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