During a succession of votes for House speaker on Tuesday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was seen talking on the House floor with the far-right Republicans Matt Gaetz and Paul Gosar, the latter who once tweeted a video depicting him slashing her in the neck with a sword.
The New York Democrat, a progressive star, told MSNBC: “In chaos, anything is possible, especially in this era.”
The chaos in Congress on Tuesday concerned the California representative Kevin McCarthy’s attempt to become House speaker, against opposition from the right of his party.
Gosar, from Arizona, was censured in November 2021 for tweeting an anime-style video of violence done to Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Biden.
On Tuesday, he was among 20 Republicans opposing McCarthy by the third ballot. So was Gaetz of Florida, a ringleader who nominated Jim Jordan of Ohio, a rightwinger loyal to McCarthy, to give the rebels someone to vote for.
Ocasio-Cortez, popularly known as AOC, was seen talking to Gosar and Gaetz. She told the Intercept her conversation with Gaetz was a “factcheck”.
“McCarthy was suggesting he could get Dems to walk away to lower his threshold,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I factchecked and said absolutely not.”
To be speaker, any candidate must reach a majority of representatives present. At one point on Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez was absent when her name was called. She voted for Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader in the House, when those absent were called on again.
Ocasio-Cortez said she discussed adjournment strategy with Gosar.
“Some of us in the House of Representatives are independent in certain ways from our party,” she told MSNBC. “And … these machinations are happening on the floor.
“And sometimes the leadership of your party, in this case, the Republican party, will be making claims in order to try to twist arms and get people in line. And a lot of times, information and truth is currency.
“So sometimes to be able to factcheck some of the claims that McCarthy is making, whether Democrats are going to defect or not, etc, is important in order to keep him honest and to keep people honest in general.”
On Tuesday, the House adjourned after three ballots. It was scheduled to reconvene at noon on Wednesday.
“I was honestly surprised,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I did not think that Kevin McCarthy was going to have the votes in the first round, but I didn’t think that it was going to be as catastrophic for him as it actually was.
“For him to have several months since the November elections and still not be able to clinch it, I think, is very much a testament to a lack of leadership.”
McCarthy, she said, “failed as a coalition-builder, not once, not twice, but three times … And I’m not quite sure what he could or would do that would change the calculus between today and tomorrow”.