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AOC claims McCarthy isn’t running GOP caucus, even though he retains remarkably good grip in narrow majority

By Sarah May on
 April 24, 2023

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA-20) prevailed in a memorable battle to secure the gavel earlier this year, ultimately garnering support from diverse elements of his party, Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) suggested this weekend that it is actually Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14) who is at the helm of the GOP, as The Hill reports.

AOC offered her take on the Republican leadership hierarchy during a sit-down with former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who now hosts her own program on MSNBC.

Who's in charge?

Psaki began her discussion with Ocasio-Cortez with some speculation on the state of the House GOP. “Speaker McCarthy, in order to become Speaker, had to cut some deals we still don't know the details on,” she said.

“Do you think he's actually running his caucus? Or do you think someone else is?” Psaki asked.

Ocasio-Cortez replied simply, “He's not.”

Prodded to declare who she does think is calling the shots, “AOC said, “I think you've got Marjorie Taylor Greene running the caucus.”

AOC explains

According to the liberal firebrand, she believes that Greene is pulling McCarthy's strings because she “makes very common public statements to that effect.”

“Every time something irks her, she communicates that McCarthy is doing her bidding,” she continued.

The congresswoman from New York went on, “And – I think that this is something that is quite clear. I think that Speaker McCarthy is stuck between having to please the most racist and heinous elements of his party with having to maintain a majority.”

“And he is choosing to side with the extremists,” Ocasio-Cortez asserted.

Acknowledged allies

While the truth of AOC's claim about the leadership of the House Republicans is debatable, there is no doubt that McCarthy and Greene have forged a perhaps previously unlikely alliance since the GOP reclaimed control of the lower chamber following the 2022 midterm elections.

After seemingly endless rounds of voting in the speaker's race in January, McCarthy was able to prevail with Greene's help in securing votes from some of the most conservative voices in the chamber, as the New York Post notes.

Speaking to the bond the pair forged over the course of the battle, the New York Times reported McCarthy as having said, “I will never leave that woman.”

“I will always take care of her,” the speaker was said to have pledged.

McCarthy's mettle

Despite AOC's contention that McCarthy is not truly in charge when it comes to the direction of the House GOP, he has managed to notch some significant victories since ascending to the position of speaker, and the current debt limit battle may be his next one.

Though President Joe Biden has been resolute in his unwillingness to negotiate terms for raising the debt limit, claiming that Republicans intend to make drastic cuts to key programs, McCarthy has been similarly firm in his commitment to forcing concessions.

As the Daily Mail noted, McCarthy said last week that “the House will vote on a bill to lift the debt ceiling into the next year, save taxpayers trillions of dollars, make us less dependent upon China, curb our high inflation – all without touching Social Security and Medicare.”

Though McCarthy's majority is a narrow one, he said on Sunday, according to Politico, “We will hold a vote this week, and we will pass it.” Less convinced, however, was AOC, who opined of McCarthy's current situation, “He's kind of brought himself up a creek without a paddle.”