Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez apologized to her constituents Friday for her waffling “present” vote on the House bill that provides $1 billion in defense funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile protection program.
She also claimed she became overcome with emotion during Thursday’s vote, saying, “Yes, I wept.”
“To those I have disappointed — I am deeply sorry. To those who believe this reasoning is insufficient or cowardice — I understand,” AOC said in an e-letter to “Our NY-14 Community” and posted on her Twitter account.
The House of Representatives passed a standalone bill to finance the Iron Dome 420-9 on Thursday, after a group of far-left lawmakers including AOC threatened to tank a short-term funding bill that included language to allocate funds toward Israel’s missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.
The 31-year-old AOC made a last-minute decision to amend her vote to “present” on Thursday — going against her fellow Squad members who had opposed the bill.
The “present vote” left her open to criticism from the left and right for refusing to take a clear stand.
AOC spent much of the letter blasting the House Democratic leadership for the “reckless” decision of rushing the bill for a vote and rebuffing her request to allow more time for deliberation.
“I want to be clear with our community that I am opposed to this bill, but ultimately cast a PRESENT vote. My job as your representative is to first and foremost serve with transparency and remain accountable to you, the people of New York’s 14th Congressional District,” the Democratic Socialist said in the letter, also posted on her twitter account.
Critics pounced, saying the Democratic Socialist known for taking principled stands was playing politics and keeping her options open to running for higher office, including against Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, who is up for re-election next year.
“The ONLY reason AOC changed her vote from ‘NO’ to ‘PRESENT’ on today’s #IronDome bill is because she wants to take on @SenSchumer next year. Those tears aren’t fooling us,” StopAntisemitism.org tweeted.
A critic of Israel’s handling of disputed territories populated by Palestinians, she noted that since 2011 the US has delivered $1.7 billion for the Iron Dome through 2028 and the $1 billion approved Thursday is on top of that as well as $3 billion in other military funds earmarked to the Jewish state earlier this year.
She objected when House Democrats attempted to include the Iron Dome funding in a larger unrelated spending bill without prior committee debate earlier this week.
“A funding leap this significant in a policy area that is already so charged and fraught for many communities, particularly our own, deserves the respect of a proper legislative process,” AOC said.
The New York congresswoman complained the rushed “controversial vote” was “intentional and unnecessary” and “created a tinderbox of vitriol, disingenuous framing, deeply racist accusations and depictions, and lack of substantive discussion on this matter.”
She said he spoke to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to request a 24-hour delay in the vote, but was “summarily dismissed.”
“In short, the rush of this vote into a matter of hours was threatening to tear our community apart, and permanently close the doors that we desperately need open in order to progress,” she said.
While Ocasio-Cortez complained about the process, she didn’t precisely explain why she voted “present” if she opposed the funding so fervently.
“Yes, I wept. 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,” she droned on despite the vote making it clear that her own party overwhelmingly supports the Iron Dome funding.
“And I wept at the complete lack of regard I often feel our party has to its most vulnerable and endangered members and communities – because the death threats and dangerous vitriol we’d inevitably receive by rushing such a sensitive, charged, and under-considered vote weren’t worth delaying it for even a few hours to help us do the work necessary to open a conversation of understanding.
Critics were quick to accuse Ocasio-Cortez of “theatrics” for the waterworks display on the House floor.
“Theatre and bad theatre at that,” Meghan McCain tweeted.
“AOC literally in tears after voting ‘present’ on the Iron Dome funding. More Jew hating theatrics from the squad,” Jerusalem Post columnist Emily Shrader said.
“Why is @AOC crying? Because Jewish and Christian women and children won’t shake in terror as unguided rockets rain down on their homes and schools,” said Josh Mandel, an Ohio GOP Senate candidate.
“Why is AOC crying because fewer rockets will fall on Israeli citizens and cities? The Iron Dome doesn’t have offensive capabilities. It’s a defensive weapon used to stop rockets launched by terrorists from killing innocent people. Why does that make her sad? Will anyone ask?” Daily Caller editor David Hookstead questioned.
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