In her first official moments in office, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed both gratitude and nerves in a live story on Instagram, promising her constituents that she was ready to take on her new role as the U.S. representative of New York’s 14th congressional district. “I want to do the Bronx proud, I want to do Queens proud, I’m just going live every day trying to do that,” she shared with her audience. Ocasio-Cortez reflected on the fact that only last New Year’s Eve, she was bartending at a restaurant in New York City. She encouraged her followers to keep pushing toward their goals and following their dreams. “I never thought that I’d be here today.”
Barely having settled in to her new role as the Representative of New York’s 14th congressional district, Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive young Boricua from the Bronx has already been fielding criticism and skepticism from both the left and the right.
No Deal for a Progressive Committee
House Democrats rejected Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to create a Green New Deal committee which would call on all its committee members to reject fossil fuel money, actively support climate justice for communities that will be impacted by the effects of climate change, and work toward a Green New Deal that would transform the United States into a leader in renewable energies. Ocasio-Cortez cited criticism from her party that her Green New Deal Committee was “too controversial.” Only days ago, former Missouri senator Claire McCaskill described Ocasio-Cortez as a “bright and shiny new object” in an interview with CNN. “The rhetoric is cheap. Getting results is a lot harder,” declared McCaskill.
Instead of a Green New Deal Committee, leading House Democrats announced that they would form the Select Committee on Climate Crisis led by Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor. In an interview with NPR, Castor described the committee as “action-oriented” and said that it would push for energy independence and focus on legislation that would possibly win bipartisan support, like fuel economy standards. Unlike the Green New Deal Committee, the Select Committee on Climate Crisis would not require its members to reject money tied to fossil fuels and would not have legislative power to push forward its agenda.
“I’m hopeful we’ll have some of the outstanding freshmen members that can bring their new passion and energy to this committee,” Castor shared. “We need them desperately.” Though she didn’t specifically name Ocasio-Cortez, it’s clear that Castor would like support from progressives like her.
A Radical and Devastating Plan
Ocasio-Cortez has long been contending with criticism from the right about her clothing policies. Most recently, a Fox News op-ed warned of economic catastrophe and a move toward socialism if the Green New Deal gets enacted, calling it “the most radical plan offered in decades.” The piece cited trillions of dollars in losses stemming from the transition to renewable energies (while failing to take into account the economic boom of new jobs in clean energy) and the unsubstantiated contention that transitioning to a hundred percent renewable energy will destabilize the power grid to the point that clean energy (and not fossil fuels) would put lives at risk.