Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) rolled out their Green New Deal bills Thursday. But it has at least one unexpected opponent.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) appeared to butt heads with the outspoken freshman Congresswoman from the Bronx in a recent Politico interview published Thursday morning. When asked about her creation of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (which she praised in a tweet as a “moral responsibility to protect God’s creation for generations to come), Pelosi made it clear that she didn’t expect Ocasio-Cortez’s first major piece of legislation to be taken seriously.
“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said of Ocasio-Cortez’s bill. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”
Speaker Pelosi said her hesitation toward embracing the Green New Deal was due to Democrats’ past failure to pass a “cap and trade” bill that would have implemented a carbon tax system.
“This time it has to be Congresswide,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi’s opposition to the Green New Deal could also be more personal in nature. On Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s first day in Washington — prior to her swearing-in as a member of Congress — she made an appearance at a demonstration outside of Pelosi’s office calling for a Green New Deal.
However, the momentum behind the Green New Deal suggests that the legislation could pick up steam in the House of Representatives. According to Justice Democrats — the group that backed Ocasio-Cortez in her June 2018 primary win over former House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley — there are 64 co-sponsors in the House and nine co-sponsors in the Senate. One name noticeably absent from the list of House co-sponsors is Pelosi’s.
We've got the momentum. 💯 🌎 👩🏾🏭
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) February 7, 2019
As it’s currently written, the Green New Deal is just a non-binding resolution, according to NPR. This means that while it wouldn’t itself appropriate money or create any new programs, it would mean the House agrees that major steps should be taken to create new jobs in the green economy while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions. Some of the bill’s main components include:
-“Upgrading all existing buildings” for maximum energy efficiency;
-Working with the agricultural sector “to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions… as much as is technologically feasible” (while supporting small, family-owned farms and promoting “universal access to healthy food”);
“Overhauling transportation systems” to cut down on carbon emissions — including the expansion of electric car manufacturing with “charging stations everywhere,” and building high-speed rail at a massive scale so that “air travel stops becoming necessary”;
-A guaranteed job “with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security” for every citizen;
-“High-quality health care” for every American — likely a reference to Medicare for All.
In a recent interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t hold back when asked if her plan would require “massive government intervention” to be implemented.
“I have no problem saying that. Why? Because we have tried their approach for 40 years. For 40 years, we tried to let the private sector take care of it,” she said.
It's amazing to hear @AOC explain and fight for how we're going to pay for the Green New Deal, when asked about massive government intervention.
"I have no problem saying that. Why? Because we have tried their approach for 40 years — to let the private sector take care of it." pic.twitter.com/kLum4DFjyu
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) February 7, 2019
Debate over support for the Green New Deal is likely going to be a point of contention, as four Democratic candidates for the presidency — Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren — are Senate co-sponsors. It’s unknown yet whether some of the other candidates, like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, venture capitalist Andrew Yang, and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg support the policy.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.