- Rep. Ilhan Omar talked to journalist Susan Page about her relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
- Pelosi was one of the first people to congratulate Omar on her primary win in 2018.
- Pelosi would check in on Omar so regularly that Omar’s aides would joke, “Auntie Nancy’s calling.”
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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota shared details about her relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time, and revealed that the two lawmakers are, in fact, friends.
Speaking to USA Today journalist Susan Page for her upcoming book, “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power,” which comes out Tuesday, Omar said Pelosi was one of the very first people to congratulate her on her primary victory in 2018.
“You’re going to win, so we’ll see you in November,” Pelosi told Omar at the time, according to an excerpt of the book published in Politico on Thursday.
During that phone call, the incoming freshman lawmaker, who wears a hijab and would soon become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, voiced concerns to Pelosi about the House’s headgear ban.
“Will they amend that for me?” Omar asked Pelosi, per the Politico excerpt. “Would I be able to sit as a member of Congress?”
Pelosi informed Omar not to fret and that she would take care of the issue. She did.
That conversation laid the groundwork for what would eventually become a warm friendship between the two. Although the House speaker would later tussle with members of the so-called Squad – consisting of Omar, and fellow progressive Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts – Omar and Pelosi remained on good terms.
Pelosi would check in on Omar so frequently after that phone call, to the point where Omar’s aides would joke: “Auntie Nancy’s calling.”
In February 2019, top congressional Democrats, including Pelosi, publicly called on Omar to apologize for her tweets that critics claimed repeated anti-Semitic tropes. The tweets in question, which have since been removed, appeared to suggest that Republicans’ support for Israel is driven by money. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar wrote at the time.
Privately, however, Pelosi lent a hand to Omar, and the two had conversations about the situation, according to the book.
“[Pelosi] wasn’t depriving me of the agency of being able to understand the gravity of whatever was happening,” Omar told Page, adding that the House speaker was polite and did not boss her around, the Politico excerpt said.
The lawmakers have kept up their alliance. Pelosi endorsed Omar for her 2020 reelection, and Omar voted for Pelosi as House speaker for this year’s new Congress.