'People are dying': Ocasio-Cortez defends Green New Deal from 'elitist' knock

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Tuesday tore into a Republican colleague who suggested the so-called Green New Deal she is championing is “elitist.”

“This is not an elitist issue; this is a quality-of-life issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a House Financial Services Committee meeting. “You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx, which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country.

“Tell that to the families in Flint whose kids have their blood ascending in lead levels, their brains are damaged for the rest of their lives,” she continued. “Call them elitist.”

Moments earlier, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., blasted the ambitious environmental plan to move the country toward zero carbon emissions.

“If you’re a rich liberal from maybe New York or California, it sounds great because you can afford to retrofit your home or build a new home that has zero emissions, that’s energy-efficient,” Duffy said.

The Green New Deal, which was introduced last month by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., failed in the Senate on Tuesday after Republicans pushed the controversial bill for a vote. Not one senator voted in support of the nonbinding resolution. All Republicans and four members of the Democratic caucus voted against it. Others voted “present.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who in January suggested implementing an income tax rate of up to 70 percent on wealthy Americans to pay for the plan, said the environmental costs to Americans are coming.

“People are dying. They are dying,” she said. “This is about American lives, and it should not be partisan. Science should not be partisan."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

"We talk about cost — we’re going to pay for this whether we pass a Green New Deal or not,” she continued. “Because as towns and cities go underwater, as wildfires ravage our communities, we are going to pay. And we're either going to decide if we’re going to pay to react, or if we're going to pay to be proactive."

She added: “I’m very sad to say that the government knew that climate change was real starting as far back as 1989. I’m going to turn 30 this year, and for the entire 30 years of my lifetime, we did not make substantial investments to prepare our entire country for what we knew was coming.”

Duffy wasn't the only GOP lawmaker to mock the plan Tuesday. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, attempted a strange pivot in a speech on the Senate floor.

"The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution," Lee said. "The solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married and have some kids."

Ocasio-Cortez fired back on Twitter.

“If this guy can be Senator," she wrote, "you can do anything.”

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