Congress

Ocasio-Cortez says being left off climate select committee not a snub

Freshman New York Democrat said Pelosi invited her to serve on the panel, but she opted against it

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., arrive for the press conference on the Green New Deal Resolution outside of the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited her to serve on a select committee studying climate change solutions, but she opted against it because she’s already on an Oversight and Reform subcommittee on the environment.

“She did in fact invite me to be on the committee,” the New York Democrat said. “So I don’t think this is a snub.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on the select committee came Thursday during a press conference she and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey held to unveil their resolution calling for a “Green New Deal.”

“This is such a watershed moment,“ Ocasio-Cortez said, expressing excitement about congressional efforts to tackle climate change.

Democrats downplay appearance of disunity on Green New Deal

“We must be as ambitious and innovative in our solutions as possible,” she added. 

Ocasio-Cortez called the Green New Deal resolution just “the first step” in identifying those solutions. It is nonbindng resolution that defines the climate change problem and outlines the scope of potential solutions, not a bill to change law, she acknowledged.

Pelosi welcomed the introduction of the resolution Thursday but told reporters during her weekly press conference that she had not read it yet. 

“Quite frankly I haven’t seen it but I do know it’s enthusiastic, and I welcome all the enthusiasm out there,” the California Democrat said. 

Pelosi also told reporters that on Wednesday she appointed members to the newly formed House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. 

Florida Rep. Kathy Castor will chair the panel, as Pelosi previously announced, and eight other Democrats will serve on it: Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Julia Brownley, Jared Huffman and Mike Levin of California, Sean Casten of Illinois, Donald McEachin of Virginia and Joe Neguse of Colorado.

Pelosi announced the plan to form the select committee last November on the same day that the newly elected Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives protested outside of the leader’s personal office in Cannon — an early effort in their push for the Green New Deal. 

Ocasio-Cortez had wanted the select committee to be given legislative and subpoena powers but it was not. The panel is simply exploratory and will be offering solutions to standing committees with jurisdiction to actually draft any legislation that is needed. 

Pelosi told reporters Thursday “there’s lots of excitement” over the select committee but noted that any legislative effort “would be a Congress-wide initiative.”

“We hope that all of the committees of jurisdiction will be very involved,” she said. 

Ocasio-Cortez also expressed such hope during her Green New Deal press conference Thursday. She said she’s spoken with Pelosi about the climate crisis on several occasions and sees her as an ally in the fight. 

Nancy Pelosi is a leader on climate, has been a leader on climate,” Ocasio-Cortez said, noting she will not allow the Democratic Caucus to be divided over this issue. “We leave no one behind.”

Watch: Optimistic, hypocritical and long: Members react to State of the Union in 3 words

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