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FOCUS: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Joins Environmental Activists in Protest at Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's Office
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49541"><span class="small">Ryan Grim and Briahna Gray, The Intercept</span></a>   
Wednesday, 14 November 2018 13:07

Excerpt: "Protesters with the environmental group Sunrise marched on Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's office on Tuesday. The group, made up of young people pushing for urgent action on climate change, planned to send a clear message to party leadership just one week after Democrats regained control of the House."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman-elect from New York, speaks to activists with the Sunrise Movement protesting in the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in Washington D.C. on Nov. 13, 2018. (photo: Sarah Silbriger/The New York Times)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman-elect from New York, speaks to activists with the Sunrise Movement protesting in the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in Washington D.C. on Nov. 13, 2018. (photo: Sarah Silbriger/The New York Times)


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Joins Environmental Activists in Protest at Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's Office

By Ryan Grim and Briahna Gray, The Intercept

14 November 18

 

rotesters with the environmental group Sunrise marched on Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s office on Tuesday. The group, made up of young people pushing for urgent action on climate change, planned to send a clear message to party leadership just one week after Democrats regained control of the House.

But this was no ordinary protest for the Sunrise activists, who typically stand on the opposite side of politicians. This time, they were joined by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is just weeks away from being sworn into office.

Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib of Michigan joined the protesters in a rally at the Spirit of Justice Park near the Capitol on Tuesday morning, but she did not continue on to Pelosi’s office. “This is the most American thing you can do,” Tlaib said of the protest. Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib also attended an event with the Sunrise activists on Monday night.

Members of the progressive political group Justice Democrats also joined the protest, which was attended by more than 150 people. “Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership must get serious about the climate and our economy,” said the group’s communications director, Waleed Shahid, in a statement. “Anything less is tantamount to denying the reality of climate change. The hopeful part is that we’re ushering in a new generation of leaders into the Democratic Party who understand the urgency and will help build a movement to create the political will for bold action.”

A recent United Nations report found that catastrophic effects of climate change, some of which are already upon us, could become widespread as early as 2040. To stave off the crisis, the globe’s economy would have to be put on the equivalent of a war footing, scientists involved with the study concluded.

The protesters, including Ocasio-Cortez, are calling on Pelosi to create and give teeth to a new select committee on climate change.

The proposed committee, called the Select Committee for a Green New Deal, would be similar to something Pelosi established as House speaker in 2007, but with more authority. Back then, Pelosi created the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and assigned her ally, then-Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who has a strong environmental record, to chair it. The committee held dozens of hearings over the course of four years, until the tea party-led Congress, which took over in 2010, mothballed it. (The Republicans also got rid of the renewable plates and utensils Pelosi had introduced and replaced them with Styrofoam.)

The problem with that committee, Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise activists argue, was that it wasn’t funded well enough and didn’t have the true ability to write legislation. In 2009, Pelosi pushed through cap-and-trade legislation, meant to reduce emissions. But even that package moved largely through the Energy and Commerce Committee — not the select committee Pelosi had created. Markey, who chaired a subcommittee under Energy and Commerce, played a lead role in pushing through the bill, which became known as the Waxman-Markey bill, but it never came to a floor vote in the Senate. Some activists argued that it wasn’t robust enough to meet the threat of climate change, while defenders argued it was the best the chamber could do — and, as it turned out, it was far better than the Senate could do.

Since then, the global climate situation has only deteriorated, with once-in-a-century storms taking place with harrowing frequency, and drought conditions sparking war and mass migration. Dozens of people have died in still-raging fires in California that are the deadliest in the state’s modern history, and hundreds more are missing. “Resting on our laurels won’t bring back the 42 lives lost,” said Sunrise activist Varshini Prakash, referring to the deaths in California.

The proposed committee would, among other things, establish a 10-year plan to transition the U.S. economy to become carbon neutral, according to draft legislation that the activists presented to Pelosi’s office. The activists are also pushing Democratic leaders to reject campaign contributions from fossil fuel industry groups. “We need every person who is going to claim the mantle of Democratic leadership to take the no fossil fuel money pledge,” Prakash said at the sit-in outside Pelosi’s office.

Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to join the protesters and march on her own House leader sets a tone of urgency and combativeness that is rare on Capitol Hill. Walking into the Cannon House Office Building, she told The Intercept something new had to be tried. “The way things are done has not been getting results. We have to try new methods,” she said.

Pelosi may need Ocasio-Cortez’s support to win a second shot at the speakership. The California Democrat can only lose roughly 20 votes on the House floor, and already at least 10 Democrats, largely moderates and conservatives, have said they will not back her. Pelosi has expressed “100 percent” confidence that she’ll be elected speaker.

Pelosi has long been proud of her climate record, and she’s taken political risks in her attempts to tackle climate change. When she pushed for a vote on the cap-and-trade bill in 2009, for example, she did so despite warnings that it could cost her the House and was also unlikely to pass the Senate.

Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, responded to the protest by saying that Pelosi is already on board with the proposals of the New Green Deal and the strengthening of the committee. When she addressed the protesters, Ocasio-Cortez said that the objective of the protest was to support Pelosi’s quest to tackle climate change. In an interview with The Intercept, she said that what Hammil said “is absolutely true, and so what we’re really doing is we’re trying to galvanize that into a priority.”

“There are so many different progressive issues that are important and climate change and addressing renewable energy always gets to the bottom of the barrel,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “That can gets kicked from session to session and so what this just needs to do is create a momentum and an energy to make sure that that it becomes a priority for leadership.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s break with decorum could, paradoxically, open up space for her to ultimately support Pelosi on the House floor. After her primary victory, Ocasio-Cortez called for “new leadership” in the House and floated the possibility of Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., running for the job. If Ocasio-Cortez can extract concessions by publicly demonstrating against Pelosi, the incoming representative’s supporters may be more forgiving of a final vote in Pelosi’s favor.

Lee, a close ally of Pelosi, is running for Democratic caucus chair, the leadership post being vacated by Rep. Joe Crowley, the New York Democrat whom Ocasio-Cortez defeated in a primary election.

Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez have had an uneasy public relationship. Pelosi was quick to dismiss the implications of Ocasio-Cortez’s June upset over Crowley, who’d been in office for 14 years. “They made a choice in one district,” she said of the voters who propelled Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist, to victory. “So, let’s not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that. … We have an array of genders, generations, geography and … opinion, in our caucus, and we’re very proud of that.”

Ocasio-Cortez later disputed the conclusion. “It’s not just one district,” she said.

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Comments  

 
+19 # jon 2018-11-14 20:24
Ocasio-Cortez later disputed the conclusion. “It’s not just one district,” she said.

The American people are very tired of the DNCC's too little, too late approach to the Republican War on the average American. It is time for corporate Democrats to get out of the way of the ground swell of positive energy or help us to counter the oligarchy.
 
 
+14 # economagic 2018-11-14 20:42
Good bleepin' grief! The Intercept has fallen (sic) into the slothful MSM model of journalism in which all issues and all viewpoints are equal, and the most important task is calling the horse race correctly. Even Ms. Ocasio-Cortez's comment about "so many different progressive issues that are important" is beside the point. Is she trying to play the Beltway Game, or has she already been co-opted into irrelevance?

Smarter people with more knowledge than I have already made it clear that two great issues will decide whether humans are replaced by cockroaches as the dominant specie on the planet within the next 50-100 years: climate disruption and nuclear weapons. I would add one other, the increasing prevalence of testosterone poisoning, especially but by no means exclusively in "white" men of European ancestry.

I am perhaps the world's greatest (or worst) advocate for due deliberation, but we've done that. If we fail to act now, we will regret it in a decade or less. We need a plan to get back on the path to zero carbon and methane emissions and 1.5 degrees by 2050 on the table on the day Congress convenes, and slugging it out on the floor by the first of May.

This is not a drill, people--we're there. Mother nature bats last, and she's on deck with two outs, two on in the bottom of the ninth, with humankind down 5-3.
 
 
+3 # SusanT136 2018-11-15 07:23
Quoting economagic:
Even Ms. Ocasio-Cortez's comment about "so many different progressive issues that are important" is beside the point. Is she trying to play the Beltway Game, or has she already been co-opted into irrelevance?....... I am perhaps the world's greatest (or worst) advocate for due deliberation, but we've done that.....We need a plan to get back on the path to zero carbon and methane emissions and 1.5 degrees by 2050 on the table on the day Congress convenes, and slugging it out on the floor by the first of May....


I appreciate and agree with your sense of urgency, but Ocasio-Cortez is on the job NOW, before she’s even sworn in, and already you’re dismissing her (IMO incorrectly). And you quote her out of context. Her actual quote:

“There are so many different progressive issues that are important and climate change and addressing renewable energy always gets to the bottom of the barrel,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “That can gets kicked from session to session and so what this just needs to do is create a momentum and an energy to make sure that that it becomes a priority for leadership.”

SHE’S calling for action NOW.

Channel your anger into pushing the politicians, and their constituents, who seem to be asleep or lackadaisical on this issue. Ocasio-Cortez needs us to get her back on this.

With a Repub Senate and Drump in the WH, we may not get real results till 2020. But -agreed- the push needs to get real NOW
 
 
+1 # economagic 2018-11-16 09:32
No dispute on any of that from here. Ocasio-Cortez may be the best thing that has happened to the democratic party since FDR (or perhaps just since Paul Wellstone). My comment echoes her own statement at a protest of Pelosi's ho-hum approach to climate change:

"There are so many different progressive issues that are important and climate change and addressing renewable energy always gets to the bottom of the barrel. . . . [W]hat [we need] to do is create a momentum and an energy to make sure that that it becomes a priority for leadership."

Obama's "all-of-the-abo ve" energy policy from 2012 was essentially the same as T-Rump's except that it did include renewables. What we need is a "ALL-of-the-abo ve" progressive policy, with "Zero Carbon" and "No Nukes" at the top of the list--because nature bats last and there is no Planet B--and with all of the others right behind.

Climate change is a crisis now because it has been ignored or denied for 20 years, so now we have to compress a daunting 50-year task into 30. But in order to have the wide support required by that task we have to have buy-in from most of the population. They have to see that government is working FOR them before they commit to working for the government (FDR's strategy). The only obstacle to solving many of those other problems in the next two years is politics. It would take that long to get the physical and bureaucratic framework for meaningful action on climate change in place.
 
 
+3 # Jim Young 2018-11-14 21:01
"...Ocasio-Cort ez later disputed the conclusion. “It’s not just one district,” she said..."

Pelosi needs to get the fired up people we helped get elected into as much of the action as practical, really make a transition possible for a much better coalition of committee assignments and chairs to make realistic paths to advancing leadership into the highest leadership positions.

Harness that energy and growing public support to grow the party into an unstoppable force to represent all the people. I can appreciate concentrating on the issues that do the most good the quickest.

I'd rather do that and make Trump irrelevant by showing what real representatives of the people can do so very much better. Do that and it will be obvious to all but the most severe dead ender supporters of the modern equivalent of Andrew Jackson and his spoils system.
 
 
+2 # economagic 2018-11-16 09:41
Right on. That is essentially what I had in mind, to get all of that rolling RIGHT NOW, while putting together the infrastructure that will be necessary for serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I'm pretty sure Pelosi is not up to the job, and will instead be the first obstacle to overcome.
 
 
+4 # Concerned Citizen 2018-11-15 08:42
The pace of change in terms of climate, technology, and human rights is accelerating. Gladly the new generation of political leaders—exempli fied by Representative- elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, and depending on the final vote count, Georgia Governor-elect Stacey Abrams among others—demonstr ate a willingness to guide America toward a more perfect union by being forceful advocates of expediting actions that address the serious issues confronting our nation. And why shouldn’t they? Unless we embrace more effective, responsive political leadership, Nature, the Republicans, and White Nationalists have already shown us a disturbing glimpse of the future we can expect.
 
 
0 # jackdresser 2018-11-15 13:46
Nancy, maybe you skipped Physics 101, but the laws of the physical universe do not vary by genders, generations, geography or opinion.
Especially opinion, since members of the other 3 demographic groups can be evidence-based and rational. But as intelligence veterans Bill Binney and Ray McGovern said about the proclaimed "confidence" (amplified opinion) that Russia hacked the DNC server, that means they have no evidence. And since the NSA tracks, precisely, every data transmission in the world, if if they don't have the evidence, it didn't happen. So Nancy, where is it written that opinions matter and/or should be respected?