Nancy Pelosi isn’t on board with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s aggressive climate change policies

February 8, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be a Twitter celebrity, but her social media fame hasn’t impressed Nancy Pelosi, who dismissed the freshman lawmaker’s ambitious Green New Deal as a “green dream or whatever” earlier this week.

Pelosi’s lackluster response comes as Ocasio-Cortez has tried to downplay being left off a new House special committee on climate change, though she insisted that she was invited to be on it by the House speaker, which Pelosi hastily confirmed.

Pelosi snubs AOC?

Given the publicity Ocasio-Cortez has drawn over her climate change activism, it looked like a snub to some when she wasn’t named to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which will be chaired by the more experienced Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). Pelosi revealed the committee’s members Thursday, the same day that Ocasio-Cortez revealed her Green New Deal.

Ocasio-Cortez said that Pelosi did invite her but that she rejected the offer to focus on crafting her much-discussed climate change resolution. Pelosi also confirmed that Ocasio-Cortez had turned down the invitation.

“Speaker Pelosi and I have spoken at length on climate, we share this priority, she did, in fact, invite me to be on the committee,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I serve on the Environmental Subcommittee on Oversight, I’m on four subcommittees. And additionally, the select committee is an investigatory body. They’re tackling the investigative piece and we’re tackling the legislative piece.”

However, Pelosi sounded unenthusiastic Thursday when Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) finally revealed the Green New Deal. When asked about the resolution, Pelosi hedged on praising its “enthusiasm” and made it clear that it would only be one of many ideas taken into consideration — hardly a ringing endorsement.

“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” Pelosi said. “I’m very excited about it all and I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals that people have out there.”

Skeptical of Green New Deal

Apparently, Ocasio-Cortez took Pelosi’s “green dream” comment as a compliment and said that she and Pelosi are “100 percent in this together.”

“I think it is a green dream,” the freshman lawmaker said. “And I think that all great American programs, everything from the Great Society to the New Deal started with a vision for our future and I don’t think, I don’t consider that to be a dismissive term, I think it’s a great term.”

But Pelosi wasn’t the only Democrat to express hesitation. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who is hardly known for being a moderate, reacted apprehensively to the plan’s proposal to eliminate the need for air travel with high-speed rail, saying, “that would be pretty hard for Hawaii.” Meanwhile, some 2020 Democratic contenders, including Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders endorsed the non-binding resolution.

The plan sketches a hugely ambitious project to mobilize America’s political and economic resources to eliminate fossil fuels from American life within 10 years. Some of its proposals include replacing air travel with high-speed rail, upgrading every home to renewable energy, and eliminating carbon emissions in the manufacturing and farming industries.

The plan drew jeers from Republicans who argue that it is an expensive and unrealistic Trojan Horse that smuggles in socialist programs including a federal jobs guarantee and universal health care for those “unable or unwilling” to work.

Still in charge

Ocasio-Cortez made advocating for action on climate change a top priority before she began her first term, appearing at an environmental protest at Pelosi’s office during her freshman orientation. Indeed, the congresswoman was recognized as a radical immediately after her stunning primary victory in June against Joe Crowley, and Pelosi pushed back against Ocasio-Cortez’s radicalism early on.

Despite the challenges to Pelosi’s leadership from AOC’s progressive wing, the radical left eventually fell in line and elected her speaker.

Ocasio-Cortez also failed to land a spot on the powerful Ways and Means committee last month, but Pelosi did appoint her to the House Financial Services Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Now that Ocasio-Cortez is at the table crafting a climate change plan, Pelosi seems just as intent on letting everyone know who’s steering the ship.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.