U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Friday apologized to her constituents for her “present” vote a day earlier on funding Israel’s Iron Dome defense system and explained why she cried on the House floor.
“Yes, I wept,” she wrote in the three-page letter to constituents that she posted on her Twitter. “I wept at the complete lack of care for the human beings that are impacted by these decisions, I wept at an institution choosing a path of maximum volatility and minimum consideration for its own political convenience.”
“Yes, I wept … at an institution choosing a path of maximum volatility and minimum consideration for its own political convenience.”
Ocasio-Cortez was mocked by conservatives for shedding “crocodile tears” over the vote.
Some on social media speculated that the lawmaker wanted “to vote No but was talked out of it for some strategic reason” and many who commented on her letter to constituents said it still didn’t explain the reason she voted ‘present.’
“So many words to say: ‘I believe this bill should have been opposed but I was too cowardly to oppose it,’” one person commented. Another pointed out that the lawmaker once criticized former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for her ‘present’ vote on impeachment, saying it’s better to take a stand. “We are sent here to lead,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time.
Ocasio-Cortez wrote in her letter that she believes the U.S. has given Israel “unconditional aid” for “far too long” while “doing nothing to address or raise the persistent human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, and that this imbalance of power must be centered in any honest conversation about Israel and Palestine – in addition to the many other governments we militarily fund with a pattern of human rights abuses.”
She stressed that voting against the bill would not defund the defense system in any way and argued there should be more scrutiny around all military spending around the world.
The process of bringing it to the floor was also “deeply unjust,” she claimed, writing it was quietly slipped into routine legislation without any committee debate, markup or regular order. She said rushing the vote caused a “tinderbox of vitriol, disingenuous framing, deeply racist accusations and depictions, and a lack of substantive discussion on the matter.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also “summarily dismissed” her request to delay the vote by 24 hours, she claimed.
She called it one of the “most controversial” votes that day, although it easily passed with only eight House Democrats and one Republican voting against it. Ocasio-Cortez and one other member voted present.
“The damage of this careless process created very real spillover effects into our community,” she wrote. “It created a real sense of panic and horror among those in our community who otherwise engage thoughtfully in these discussions and fueled the discussion to devolve to a point where it became clear that this vote would risk a severe devolution of the good faith community fabric that allows us to responsibly join in a struggle for human rights and dignity everywhere – from Palestine to The Bronx to Queens.”
She said rushing the vote threatened to “tear our community apart,” adding that it wasn’t the first time people’s wellbeing was “tossed aside for political convenience” and she didn’t think it would be the last.
“To those I have disappointed – I am deeply sorry. To those who believe this reasoning is insufficient or cowardice – I understand,” she wrote in closing. “To those who asked me to quell the volatility of this moment in our community …I hope we can take this moment and opportunity to more deeply engage in and grow a true, substantive movement of community support for human rights around the world –which includes cherishing and respecting the human rights of Palestinian people.”