Rep. Katie Porter of California clashed with a fellow House Democrat on the House floor as tensions flared in 2019 over a contentious border-related bill that ended up splitting the party.
According to journalist Ryan Grim’s new book “The Squad: AOC and the Hope of a Political Revolution“, Porter lashed out at Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, after she overheard Spanberger complain about more progressive Democrats trying to amend a $4.6 billion border aid package that already passed the Senate.
“Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA official turned moderate Democrat, waved the House amendments around, saying she was tired of being forced to vote against her values,” Grim wrote.
Grim wrote that Porter was “stunned.”
“‘What values?’ Porter said, per Grim. ‘Go be a Republican, then.’”
In separate statements to Business Insider, spokespersons for both Spanberger and Porter said the pair were still friends. Both lawmakers voted in favor of the bill.
“Since they were sworn in, Reps. Porter and Spanberger have enjoyed a strong friendship and working relationship that continues today. Both representing ideologically diverse districts, they find common ground in their commitment to democracy, willingness to debate ideas, and respect for Americans’ many viewpoints,” a spokesperson for Porter said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Spanberger added, “Since they were sworn in, Reps. Porter and Spanberger have enjoyed a strong friendship and working relationship that continues today. Both representing ideologically diverse districts, they find common ground in their commitment to democracy, willingness to debate ideas, and respect for Americans’ many viewpoints.”
Some Democrats, including then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wanted to amend the proposal by requiring the Trump administration to only use some of the new money for specific supplies such as food, water, and blankets. Instead, more centrist lawmakers, including Spanberger, called on Congress to pass the bill as it stood without risking the possibility of lawmakers leaving town for their July 4 recess without doing nothing.
Those centrists and many other Democrats held firm and forced Pelosi to back down. The bill, which passed the Senate 84 to 8, passed the House 305 to 102. But despite holding the majority, the legislation passed with far more Republican votes than Democrats. Ninety-five House Democrats voted against the legislation.
The opponents’ vented their raw emotions after the defeat.
“Since when did the Problem Solvers Caucus become the Child Abuse Caucus?” Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, who at the time was leading the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wrote on Twitter of the bipartisan group of centrist lawmakers.
Spanberger later told The Washington Post that the episode taught her “that for some people ideology matters more than putting food in the mouth of a child.”
Both congresswomen will soon to be leaving the House. Porter is currently running to replace the late Dianne Feinstein in the Senate. Spanberger has said she will leave the chamber so she can run for governor of Virginia.