On the day Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) unveiled the details of her Green New Deal, a sweeping package of climate change and socioeconomic initiatives, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced which lawmakers will serve on a new climate change committee.
Ocasio-Cortez was not on the list.
“We are thrilled to welcome so many visionary leaders and strong voices to our new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which will be vital in advancing ambitious progress for our planet,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement about the committee. “Each Member brings great energy and deep expertise to the climate crisis, which jeopardizes our public health, our economy, our national security and the whole of God’s creation.”
Was Ocasio-Cortez slighted? Put in her place by the Speaker? Or did she want to work on the defining issue outside the confines of a committee?
According to Ocasio-Cortez, none of the above.
At a news conference announcing her Green New Deal plan, she said it “was not a snub.” Ocasio-Cortez said she was asked to join but declined. The members of the committee are Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor (Fla.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (Va.) and Joe Neguse (Colo.). Castor will be chairman.
In the past, Ocasio-Cortez has indicated that the panel Pelosi put together didn’t have enough teeth to be effective. But she also said unequivocally that Pelosi is a leader on climate change.
“I will not allow our caucus be divided up by silly notions of whatever narrative; we are 100 percent in this together,” Ocasio-Cortez said, donning a green blazer.
Notably, it’s Ocasio-Cortez who helped make the notion of a Green New Deal mainstream. On Thursday, she and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) offered an ambitious list of policy proposals that would seek to eliminate carbon emissions while caring for the most vulnerable populations.
Many of the ways Ocasio-Cortez and Markey envision getting there is through issues not usually directly associated with environmental policy. As Washington Post reporter Philip Bump wrote of the Green New Deal outline: “This is an economic document at its heart, one that forecasts how the economy is going to need to change and establishing a path for fixing many of the problems that have accompanied past economic transitions.”
It calls for high-speed rail “to a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary,” guaranteed jobs “with a family-sustaining wage,” and “high-quality healthcare” for all.
Ocasio-Cortez had proposed the establishment of a select congressional committee on the Green New Deal. The climate change committee that was formed instead is not as nearly as sweeping as Ocasio-Cortez envisioned, and she criticized it at the time.
The freshman congresswoman and the speaker clashed early on regarding environmental issues. They didn’t necessarily get off on the right foot when Ocasio-Cortez made an appearance in Pelosi’s office during a sit-in for the Green New Deal over freshmen orientation.
Pelosi has long championed addressing climate change, but she has been less inclined to adopt Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive ideas. In an interview with Politico this week, Pelosi offered this seemingly dismissive response when asked about a Green New Deal.
“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said. “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”
But Ocasio-Cortez insisted she didn’t take that comment as dismissive.
“I think it is a green dream,” she said. “All great American programs started with a vision for our future.”