Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been captured laughing while sitting behind her Republican opponent Matt Gaetz as he delivered an impassioned speech amid his campaign to resist Kevin McCarthy’s attempts to be elected House speaker.
The photo was taken during the chaotic vote on Wednesday, when the House of Representatives adjourned without having decided on a new speaker. Legislators had appeared temporarily to not know what the final vote count was on the resolution.
Mr Gaetz has led the charge among Republicans opposing Mr McCarthy’s bid in Congress during the voting on both Monday and Tuesday.
He has nominated Ohio Republican Jim Jordan and accused Mr McCarthy of being a “squatter.”
In the photo, the New York Democrat can be seen laughing as Mr Gaetz stands up and speaks.
The picture was shared on Twitter by activist Olivia Julianna, who added the caption: “Living vicariously through @AOC right now.”
Some users speculated if Ms Ocasio-Cortez was smiling at George Santos instead, who also appeared to be in the frame.
In a letter to the Architect of the US Capitol Brett Blanton, a day before the photo was taken, Mr Gaetz wrote: “The Speaker of the House Office in the Capitol is currently being occupied by Kevin McCarthy.”
“What is the basis in law, House rule, or precedent to allow someone who has placed second in three successive speaker elections to occupy the Speaker of the House Office? How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?” he continued.
During Wednesday’s voting, Ms Ocasio-Cortez was also seen having separate exchanges with Mr Gaetz and Paul Gosar fueling speculation about what the conversation was.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez later said the Republicans claimed Mr McCarthy had proposed making a deal with the Democrats, something she denied.
Republican hardliners have persistently criticised Mr McCarthy’s bid to become House speaker ever since the GOP won the House majority in the November midterms.