NEW YORK - In a contentious debate on Spectrum News NY1, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her record against her two leading Democratic primary opponents, while weighing in on calls for police reform and the federal response to coronavirus.


Rep. Ocasio-Cortez faced off against former financial journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and community leader and activist Badrun Khan, in a recorded debate moderated by political anchor Errol Louis.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez represents the 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of the East Bronx and Western Queens.

As protesters take to the streets in New York and around the country calling for police reform, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez expressed support for efforts to reduce the NYPD’s funding. 

“The reduction of our NYPD budget and defunding a $6 billion budget, that costs us books in the hands of our children and costs us very badly needed investment in NYCHA and public housing," Ocasio-Cortez said. 

All three candidates backed a federal bill banning chokeholds and urged police reform. 

Caruso-Cabrera and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also clashed over the incumbent's vote against a coronavirus aid bill. 

The 14th District is one of the hardest-hit areas in the nation when it comes to cases of COVID-19. 

“I would have voted for that bill, and I would be working with Nancy Pelosi right now for another stimulus bill," Caruso-Cabrera said. 

But Rep. Ocasio-Cortez noted that she had supported other coronavirus aid packages. She said this legislation was too stacked in favor of big corporations. 

“The 'CARES Act' included $500 billion in Wall Street giveaways, it included $500 billion that was going to be leveraged into $4 trillion for Donald Trump and his friends," Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was first elected in 2018, after a shocking upset primary win over powerful Rep. Joe Crowley. Since then she has become one of the most high-profile political figures in the country, a leading voice for progressive causes, and a lightning rod for critics in the Republican Party.

Caruso-Cabera has raised a significant amount of campaign contributions, but critics say she has no ties to the 14th District, and moved to Queens only to challenge Ocasio-Cortez. During the debate she was forced to defend past comments made about cutting health care entitlements, as well as her previous registration as a Republican until 2015. 

When asked whether she would support Nancy Pelosi for another term as Speaker, Ocasio-Cortez said it was subject to continuing dynamics, saying, “I support her, yes, maybe, yes, if she wants it” saying she wasn’t sure if the speaker was running for another term.

The other two candidates said they would support Pelosi for speaker.