Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Friday criticized Tennessee Republicans for expelling two Democratic lawmakers from the state House, calling the move a “naked abuse of power.”
Ocasio-Cortez spoke to CNN after the GOP-led chamber voted Thursday to remove state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who had led a protest on the House floor without being recognized to speak — a violation of rules on conduct and decorum. Their demonstration came in the wake of a school shooting last month in Nashville that left six people dead, not including the assailant.
“This is about the fascist takeover of our statehouses that Republicans have invested in in the last several decades,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who has previously tweeted about Republicans’ “fascism.”
“This is about disenfranchising Democrats in states where there is extreme levels of voter suppression,” she added.
The New York Democrat also said that race played a role in the removal of the two lawmakers, who are Black.
“It was deeply about racism,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who referred to “absolutely disrespectful and denigrating comments made to the Black members of the Tennessee House.”
She further noted that Rep. Gloria Johnson — a white Democrat who had similarly participated in the protest and faced an expulsion vote — narrowly kept her seat.
Ocasio-Cortez joins a number of other noteworthy Democrats who have bashed the House expulsions, including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Al Gore.