Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of neutering a climate change committee earlier this year, escalating a series of public attacks the two have waged on each other through social media and the press.
“I had made very specific requests, which I thought were rather reasonable, for the select committee on climate change,” the freshman lawmaker told The New Yorker in an interview published on Wednesday. “And none of those requests were accommodated. And so I didn’t join the committee.”
Last fall, Ocasio-Cortez organized a sit-in with 150 youth activists at the House Speaker’s Capitol Hill office to protest lack of congressional action toward climate change. Speaking with The New Yorker, the Democrat revisited this contentious period, criticizing Pelosi’s refusal to grant the committee subpoena powers or have members pledge not to take donations from fossil fuel companies—which she said amounted to foundational disagreements.
“Given that none of those standards were met, sitting on that committee, I would have to own anything—I would take responsibility for anything that comes out of that committee,” continued Ocasio-Cortez. “And when the actual, in my opinion, the structure of it is compromised in very deep ways—I don’t think it was, like, I’m going to take my ball and going and go home. It’s, we have a select committee whose mission I was uncertain on whose members take fossil fuel money. You know, that is beyond just a mere disagreement. I think there’s a structural problem with it. And there are plenty of other caucuses, as well, that work on climate issues.”
Last week, Pelosi told The New York Times that Ocasio-Cortez and three other progressive lawmakers (Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts) made themselves irrelevant to the political process by voting against a bipartisan immigration bill.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” the House Speaker told reporter Maureen Dowd. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”