Ocasio-Cortez championed the Green New Deal with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. The ambitious proposal to fight climate change came up for vote Tuesday in the GOP-controlled Senate but failed to advance.
Even some Democrats in Congress have sought to distance themselves from the Green New Deal. Republicans, meantime, are trying to turn the progressive plan into a wedge issue in the 2020 elections.
She said the Green New Deal was intentionally written for the American people and not necessarily for her congressional colleagues.
“This is not a partisan issue, because there are Democrats who will get in the way of us saving ourselves,” Ocasio-Cortez told to the town hall audience at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in the Bronx. “We encourage everyone here to look it up. I’m here not to convince my colleagues, but the electorate.”
According to Ocasio-Cortez, if the American voters end up making the plan a priority or show overwhelming support for it, then there’s “political room to pass it.”
“A lot of what the Green New Deal is, is about shifting our political, economic and social paradigm on every issue,” she said. “Because we don’t have time to wait.”
The Green New Deal includes a series of goals for fighting climate change and pollution as well as calling for economic and social justice reforms.
“This issue is not just about our climate,” said the 29-year-old lawmaker. She said there’s “runaway income equality” and the economy isn’t producing and innovating like it needs to be for the American people.
Also, she said it was important to transition away from fossil fuel jobs to new energy jobs as part of a shift in the economy to help fight climate change.
The congresswoman also fought back against criticism that the Green New Deal was too broad or lofty.
“First of all, we’ve been here before,” she said. “We’ve been here before with the Great Depression, we’ve been here before with World War II, even the Cold War. And the answer has been an ambitious and directed mobilization of the American economy to direct and solve our biggest problem.”
She went on to say the climate crisis along with economic and social inequality are far too serious to ignore.
“To get us out of this situation, to revamp our economy, to create dignified jobs for working Americans, to guarantee health care and elevate our educational opportunities and attainment, we will have to mobilize our entire economy around saving ourselves and taking care of this planet,” said Ocasio-Cortez
The plan has been ridiculed by some Republicans and right-wing media as “a socialist manifesto” and for mentioning the “farting cows” as a greenhouse gas problem.
Ocasio-Cortez said she expected the criticism of the Green New Deal plan but added, “I didn’t expect them to make total fools of themselves.”
Finally, she rejected those who consider the Green New Deal as radical or socialist.
“This is not a Tea Party of the left,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is a return to representative democracy.”