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The Squad (United States Congress)

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The Squad is a group of six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was initially composed of four women elected in the 2018 United States House of Representatives elections: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. They have since been joined by Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri following the 2020 United States House of Representatives elections. The group is well known for being among the most progressive and left-wing members of the United States Congress.

All are under the age of 50,[1] have been supported by the Justice Democrats political action committee, and are on the left wing of the Democratic Party.[2][3] All except Omar and Tlaib were initially elected to Congress after unseating incumbents in primary challenges. All represent safe seats with Cook Partisan Voting Index scores of at least D+20.

The group has been said to represent the demographic diversity of a younger political generation and the advocacy of progressive policies such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, which have sometimes clashed with their party's leadership.[4][5][6][7] Ocasio-Cortez coined the "Squad" name in an Instagram post a week after the 2018 election. The photo, taken at a VoteRunLead event where the four founding members spoke, subsequently went viral.[8]


The colloquial use of the word "squad" arose from East Coast hip hop culture and describes "a self-chosen group of people that you want to identify with". Its use by Ocasio-Cortez signaled familiarity with millennial slang[9] as a playful reference to youth social cliques.[3] Ocasio-Cortez's home borough of The Bronx was the origin of hip hop. Musical acts with "Squad" in their name and lyrics existed from the 1990s to the present.[10]

The New York Times considers the Squad to be sui generis, not fitting neatly into the usual types of congressional groups: the gang (a bipartisan group focused on particular legislation) or the caucus (a pressure group based on special interests). It notes that the term, with a militaristic connotation, conveys values of self-defense, allegiance, and having "something important to protect".[10] The moniker has been used pejoratively by some Republicans, but the four original women use the term self-referentially to express solidarity among themselves and with supporters.[9] For example, the Justice Democrats tweeted a quote from Pressley saying: "We are more than four people... Our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world."[11]

The average age of the Squad was 38.3 years as of mid-2019, nearly two decades younger than the overall House average age of 57.6 years.[10]


2018 election[edit]

Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley defeated Joe Crowley and Mike Capuano, respectively, in primary elections. Omar won the seat previously held by Democrat Keith Ellison, who retired from the House to successfully run for Attorney General of Minnesota, and Tlaib won the seat once held by Dean of the House John Conyers, who resigned in December 2017 after nearly 53 years in Congress. At least three of the squad members provided fund-raising and volunteer assistance during the election campaigns of other members.[12]

According to Pressley, she and Ocasio-Cortez had met before Freshman Orientation Week for the 116th United States Congress. During that event a week after Election Day, on November 12, 2018, all four members of the Squad participated in a livestreamed interview with Jodi Jacobson from Rewire.News, organized by VoteRunLead, and took a group picture. Ocasio-Cortez published the picture on Instagram, labeling it "Squad";[8][13] Pressley published the photo on her Instagram story the same day.[10] The next day, they had already attracted negative attention in conservative media, as Laura Ingraham of Fox News called them "the four horsewomen of the apocalypse".[14] The four women, known for their social media savvy, regularly defend each other's policies and remarks.[3]

After publication, Ocasio-Cortez's Squad photo became a viral phenomenon, and public figures began using "The Squad" to refer collectively to the four women, with prominent examples of usage coming from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Dowd had used the term in an interview with House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who criticized the four members of the Squad collectively, although without naming them.[9] Tlaib has requested a meeting between Pelosi and the Squad, on behalf of the group.[15] Another photo of the three members who served on the House Oversight Committee during Michael Cohen's testimony also got viral attention.[16]

On July 14, 2019, President Donald Trump tweeted that the members of the Squad should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done".[1][17] The insinuation that people of color are foreign was widely viewed as racist; three of the four are American-born and the fourth (Omar) became a naturalized citizen in her youth.[18] On July 15, the four women responded in a press conference, saying "We are here to stay."[19]

On July 16, the House of Representatives condemned Trump's remarks in H.Res. 489.[20] Over the following days, Trump continued to attack the four congresswomen, saying at a July 17 campaign rally: "They never have anything good to say. That's why I say, 'Hey if you don't like it, let 'em leave, let 'em leave.' ... I think in some cases they hate our country."[21] While Trump was criticizing Omar, the North Carolina crowd reacted by chanting, "Send her back, Send her back!"[22][23] Trump also falsely claimed that the four congresswomen had used the term "evil Jews"; none of them have been reported to have used the term.[24] The same day, the Republican party launched a political advertisement against the Squad, titled "Squad Goals: Anarchy" and focusing on the Squad's role in the Abolish ICE movement.[25]

A CBS News and YouGov poll of almost 2,100 American adults conducted from July 17 to 19 found that Republican respondents were more aware about the four Democratic congresswomen than Democratic respondents. The congresswomen have very unfavorable ratings among Republican respondents and favorable ratings among Democratic respondents.[26] In a New York Times opinion piece the historian Barbara Ransby wrote, "The squad has tilled new ground in reanimating a fighting spirit within the Democratic Party and revived its left flank."[27]

In late July 2019, the Illinois Republican County Chairmen's Association labelled the four congresswomen as the "Jihad Squad" in a Facebook post that was later deleted. Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider condemned "evoking race or religion as the basis for political disagreement".[28]

In August 2019, Israel blocked Omar and Tlaib from visiting the country, a reversal from the July 2019 statement from Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer that "any member of Congress" would be allowed in. A spokesman for Israeli Interior Minister Arye Deri attributed the ban to Omar and Tlaib's support for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited that Omar and Tlaib only intended to visit the Palestinian Territories and had not scheduled a meeting with any Israeli politicians. Less than two hours before the ban, American President Donald Trump had tweeted that Israel allowing the visit would "show great weakness" when Omar and Tlaib "hate Israel & all Jewish people".[29] Omar responded that Netanyahu had caved to Trump's demand and that "Trump's Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing". Tlaib described the blockage as "weakness". American legislators from both the Democratic and Republican parties criticized the Israeli decision, and requested that Israel withdraw the ban.[30][31] Trump applauded Israel's decision while continuing his criticism of Omar and Tlaib; he described them as "the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel".[32] A day after the ban was imposed, Tlaib was granted permission to enter Israel to visit her family after she "committed to accept all the demands of Israel to respect the restrictions imposed on her in the visit" and "promised not to advance boycotts against Israel during the visit." In response, Tlaib said that she would not visit Israel, tweeting that doing so would "stand against everything [she] believe[s] in – fighting against racism, oppression, and injustice."[33]

2020 election[edit]

Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2020, while Pressley endorsed Elizabeth Warren.[34]

'The Squad Victory Fund', a joint action committee, was set up by the Squad to raise money for their individual campaigns and other progressive campaigns in July 2020.[35][36]

All four members once again won the Democratic nomination for their districts in 2020. Pressley was unchallenged in her primary, while Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar defeated their respective challengers, including Tlaib's House predecessor (Brenda Jones) by large margins.[37]

On January 3, 2021, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman joined the Squad at the start of the 117th United States Congress. Both successfully challenged incumbent Democrats in their primaries–Lacy Clay and Eliot Engel, respectively. Bush posted a photo on Twitter of herself, Bowman, and the four original Squad members with the caption "Squad up."[38][39]

Infrastructure bills[edit]

On November 5, 2021, all six members of the Squad voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on the grounds that more moderate members of the House and senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema could not be trusted to hold to their end of a deal to also pass the Build Back Better Act as agreed upon. They were the only Democratic members of the House to vote against the bill.[40][41]


The four original members of the Squad had already been discussed as a group, even before the name was widely adopted.[14][9] However, according to Mediaite, the news media currently uses "Squad" to refer to the group "almost exclusively".[42]

Member Born District Prior experience Education Assumed office
Jamaal Bowman 117th U.S Congress (cropped).jpg
Jamaal Bowman
April 1, 1976
(age 45)
New York City, New York
New York 16 (D+25) Schoolteacher, school principal University of New Haven (BA)
Mercy College (MA)
Manhattanville College (EdD)
Cori Bush 117th U.S Congress (cropped).jpg
Cori Bush
July 21, 1976
(age 45)
St. Louis, Missouri
Missouri 1 (D+29) Nurse, pastor, activist Lutheran School of Nursing (GrDip)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Official Portrait (cropped).jpg
October 13, 1989
(age 32)
New York City, New York
New York 14 (D+25) Organizer,
Bernie Sanders for President
Boston University (BA) 2019
Ilhan Omar, official portrait, 116th Congress (cropped).jpg
Ilhan Omar
October 4, 1982
(age 39)
Mogadishu, Somalia
Minnesota 5 (D+29) Member,
Minnesota House of Representatives
North Dakota State University (BA)
Ayanna Pessley 117 cropped.jpg
Ayanna Pressley
February 3, 1974
(age 47)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Massachusetts 7 (D+35) Member,
Boston City Council
Boston University
Rashida Tlaib, official portrait, 116th Congress (cropped).jpg
Rashida Tlaib
July 24, 1976
(age 45)
Detroit, Michigan
Michigan 13 (D+32) Member,
Michigan House of Representatives
Wayne State University (BA)
Thomas M. Cooley Law School (JD)

Suggested members[edit]

It has been suggested that Marie Newman, who successfully challenged an incumbent member of the House of Representatives with Justice Democrats backing, as well as Mondaire Jones, who initially challenged an incumbent and subsequently won the primary after the incumbent announced her retirement – could join the Squad in 2021.[43][44][45][46] Ritchie Torres was another person named as a potential member but Torres said he had "no intention of joining The Squad."[47][48][49][50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sullivan, Kate (July 16, 2019). "Here are the 4 congresswomen known as 'The Squad' targeted by Trump's racist tweets". CNN. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  2. ^ Cornwell, Susan (October 21, 2019). "Expanding the 'Squad:' U.S. liberals challenge moderate Democrats to move party left". Reuters. Ocasio-Cortez [...] has since become the face of the 'Squad,' freshman Democrats aiming to move the party farther left on issues such as healthcare and climate change.
  3. ^ a b c Zanona, Melanie; Ferris, Sarah; Caygle, Heather (March 4, 2019). "'It is like high school': Meet the House's freshman cliques". Politico.
  4. ^ Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (July 9, 2019). "Tensions Between Pelosi and Progressive Democrats of 'the Squad' Burst Into Flame". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  5. ^ Mason, Jeff; Cornwell, Susan (July 15, 2019). "Trump Defiant as Lawmakers Blast His 'Racist' Attacks on Four Congresswomen". Reuters. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  6. ^ Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (July 15, 2019). "After Trump Accuses Four Democratic Congresswomen of Hating U.S., They Fire Back". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  7. ^ "A Look at the 'Squad' That Trump Targeted in Racist Tweets". The New York Times. Associated Press. July 15, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Folley, Aris (November 13, 2018). "Ocasio-Cortez shares photo of new 'squad' on Capitol Hill". The Hill. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d North, Anna (July 17, 2019). "How 4 congresswomen came to be called "the Squad"". Vox. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d John, Arit (July 18, 2019). "A Brief History of Squads". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  11. ^ Justice Democrats [@justicedems] (July 15, 2019). ""We are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out, and left behind. Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world." -@AyannaPressley" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ Ulloa, Jazmine (July 23, 2019). "At a modest New York fund-raiser, 'the Squad' got its start". The Boston Globe.
  13. ^ "'The Squad': How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar got their nickname". CBS News. July 17, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  14. ^ a b González-Ramírez, Andrea (November 14, 2018). "The New Class Of Congresswomen Is Already Taking D.C. By Storm". Refinery29. Retrieved July 17, 2019. Their shared identity as young women from underrepresented communities and smart politicians pushing the Democratic party to the left has created an unbreakable bond.
  15. ^ Helmore, Edward (July 17, 2019). "The Squad: progressive Democrats reveal how they got their name". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Gallucci, Nicole (February 28, 2019). "This photo of Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib from the Cohen hearing says it all". Mashable. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  17. ^ Yglesias, Matthew (July 18, 2019). "Trump's racist tirades against "the Squad," explained". Vox. Vox Media. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  18. ^ Stanley-Becker, Isaac (July 15, 2019). "Republicans are quiet as Trump urges minority congresswomen to leave the country". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  19. ^ Naylor, Brian (July 15, 2019). "Lawmakers Respond To Trump's Racist Comments: We Are Here To Stay". NPR. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Fram, Alan; Superville, Darlene (July 17, 2019). "House condemns Trump 'racist' tweets in extraordinary rebuke". Associated Press. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  21. ^ Reichmann, Deb (July 17, 2019). "Trump slams congresswomen; crowd roars, 'Send her back!'". Associated Press. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Yen, Hope; Seitz, Amanda (July 18, 2019). "Trump goes after Omar at rally". Associated Press. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  23. ^ McDonald, Scott (July 17, 2019). "Trump Slams Progressive Democrat Women, Talks 'Bulls**t' at North Carolina Rally". Newsweek. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  24. ^ Times of Israel Staff (July 20, 2019). "Trump falsely claims Democratic congresswomen spoke of 'evil Jews'". The Times of Israel. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  25. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (July 17, 2019). "RNC's 'Squad Goals: Anarchy' ad highlights congresswomen's own comments". The Washington Times. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  26. ^ Backus, Fred; Salvanto, Anthony (July 21, 2019). "Most Americans disagree with Trump's "go back" tweets – CBS News poll". CBS News. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  27. ^ Ransby, Barbara (August 8, 2019). "'The Squad' Is the Future of the Democratic Party". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  28. ^ Daughtery, Owen (July 21, 2019). "Illinois GOP group shares, then deletes meme labeling minority congresswomen 'Jihad Squad'". The Hill. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  29. ^ Ahren, Rafael (August 15, 2019). "And then Trump tweeted – Why Israel suddenly decided to bar 2 US congresswomen". The Times of Israel. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  30. ^ Folley, Aris (August 15, 2019). "Omar: Netanyahu implementing 'Trump's Muslim ban' by denying entry to Israel". The Hill. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  31. ^ Times of Israel Staff (August 15, 2019). "Banned congresswomen call decision 'insult to democracy' and a sign of weakness". The Times of Israel. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  32. ^ Lee, Matthew; Miller, Zeke (August 16, 2019). "AP Analysis: Trump uses Israel to fuel partisan fires". Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  33. ^ Liebermann, Oren (August 17, 2019). "Rep. Rashida Tlaib says she won't visit Israel after being allowed to enter on humanitarian grounds". CNN. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  34. ^ Herndon, Astead W. (November 6, 2019). "Ayanna Pressley Endorses Elizabeth Warren for President". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  35. ^ "'The Squad' Is Raising Money To Fight For Progressive Candidates".
  36. ^ "AOC, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley launch joint fundraising committee 'Squad Victory Fund'".
  37. ^ "Live election results: 2020 U.S. House races". Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  38. ^ @CoriBush (January 3, 2021). "Squad up" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  39. ^ "'The Squad is Growing' – And So is Its Power". November 5, 2020.
  40. ^ Grayer, Annie (November 5, 2021). "These 6 House Democrats voted against the infrastructure bill. These 13 Republicans voted for it". CNN. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  41. ^ Stancil, Kenny (November 6, 2021). "'Foolishness': House Passes Infrastructure Bill But Postpones Build Back Better Act". Common Dreams. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  42. ^ Hall, Colby (July 16, 2019). "AOC's 'Squad': Who In the Media is to Blame for Making This Term a Thing?". Mediaite. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  43. ^ Dovere, Edward-Isaac (July 17, 2020). "Jamaal Bowman Is Ready to Join the Squad". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  44. ^ Hasan, Mehdi; Grim, Ryan; Jones, Mondaire (June 25, 2020). "The Rise of the Left (With Mondaire Jones)". The Intercept. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  45. ^ Nichols, John (August 6, 2020). "2020 Is a Great Year for #SquadPolitics. Just Ask Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  46. ^ Herndon, Astead W. (August 5, 2020). "Progressive Victories Signal Staying Power for the Movement". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  47. ^ "A new generation of Black progressives has been elected to Congress". November 4, 2020. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  48. ^ "@casestudyqb". Twitter. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  49. ^ Samuels, Ben (December 21, 2020). "'Pro-Israel Progressive' Ritchie Torres Won't Join AOC's Squad Due to BDS Stance". Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  50. ^ Levine, Jon (December 19, 2020). "Pro-Israel progressive Ritchie Torres says he won't join AOC's 'Squad'". Retrieved January 23, 2021.