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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the only Democrat to vote 'no' on a bill to reopen the government because it would fund ICE

Business Insider logo Business Insider 1/24/2019 Eliza Relman
a woman standing in front of a crowd © Scott Eisen/Getty Images
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the only House Democrat to vote against a bill to reopen the government on Wednesday.
  • In an Instagram post that has since been deleted, Ocasio-Cortez said she opposed the spending bill because it allocated funds for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
  • While the New Yorker campaigned on eliminating ICE, she hasn't prioritized the proposal since her election to Congress.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the only House Democrat to vote against a bill to fund the government and end the partial government shutdown on Wednesday.

The progressive New York Democrat said she broke from her party because she didn't want to allocate any funding for the the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), which she campaigned on eliminating.

"Most of our votes are pretty straightforward, but today was a tough/nuanced call," she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram story. "We didn't vote with the party because one of the spending bills included ICE funding, and our community felt strongly about not funding that."

The bill, which was supported by 223 Democrats and six Republicans and opposed by 183 Republicans, would fund the federal government through February 28. The shutdown - the longest in history - is now on its 33rd day and has left 800,000 federal workers without pay.

Conservative media pounced on Ocasio-Cortez after she voted in support of a bill earlier this month to fund the government, which included funding for DHS and ICE. Right-wing critics called the lawmaker hypocritical for calling to "abolish ICE" while voting to fund it. 

Trump rejected that bill because it didn't include his demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding.

Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on an ambitious policy platform that included eliminating ICE, the increasingly aggressive agency tasked with arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants.

But the 29-year-old lawmaker hasn't talked much about abolishing the agency in recent months.

"We've got to talk a bit more about that one internally," Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez's former campaign manager and now chief of staff, told INSIDER last month of the proposal to eliminate the federal agency. He said Ocasio-Cortez will likely sign on to a new effort led by progressives to reframe the immigration debate around the economic demand for foreign workers.

The New York Democrat won her primary just as news spread of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of separating migrant children from their families at the border.

The combination of that deeply controversial policy and Ocasio-Cortez's win helped push other Democrats, including sitting House members and senators, to sign on to the call to eliminate, or radically reform, ICE.

But the majority of Democrats are either opposed to the proposal or consider it a political non-starter and a threat to red- and purple-district Democrats.


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