Dozens of freshman House Democrats gathered Monday on the Capitol steps the first day back from congressional recess, wearing bright blue T-shirts to deliver a distinct message: “Our unity is our power.”
The class photo op – which gathered more than 30 freshman House Democrats, including the four members of the so-called “Squad” of outspoken progressive freshmen – came after a six-week-long recess where several members sustained attacks on Twitter from President Donald Trump.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, a member of “The Squad,” said she hopes Trump “gets the message loud and clear.” She said the group is “certainly united in defeating him and evicting him from the White House.”
Rep. Donna Shalala of Florida said Trump has “no right to pick off some freshmen and attack them,” and that “It just shows his weakness as opposed to his strength.”
“We hang in there together,” she said.
The idea was hatched in late June by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Katie Porter of California.
Porter said the freshman Democratic class “still has that same fighting spirit and fighting energy” that they had when they were first sworn in and that the message written on their shirts is a “reminder to all of us to stay unified, and in that unity is the power that we need to make the changes we want to see in this country.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, another member of “The Squad,” said, “It’s a message for the whole country.”
She described the demonstration as a re-centering of why the freshman Democrats ran for Congress in the first place.
The President has over the past several months singled out Pressley, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, painting them as the face of the Democratic Party in his criticism.
Trump in July urged the congresswomen, who are all women of color and US citizens, to “go back” to where they had come from. The President’s language was widely regarded as racist and the House passed a resolution condemning it, but Trump doubled down and insisted the congresswomen leave the country if they continue complaining about his policies.
At a Trump rally shortly thereafter, the crowd chanted “Send her back!” when Trump ripped into Omar, who was born in Somalia.