Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled an official resolution for her Green New Deal on Thursday — and it has some enormously influential backers. The support showcases the powerful role the young progressive from New York is playing in steering the Democratic Party.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand — all of whom have announced they’re running for president — co-sponsored the Senate resolution, introduced by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
The resolution acknowledges the U.S. government’s responsibility to divest from fossil fuels and revolutionize the American energy industry by investing in green infrastructure and jobs. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is expected to announce a presidential bid, is also a co-sponsor.
More than 20 House Democrats are also co-sponsoring the resolution, including progressive heavyweights Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who co-chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In another indication Democrats are prioritizing the climate crisis on their agenda, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the members of a select committee on the climate crisis Thursday, though Ocasio-Cortez is not a member. Not every Democrat is a huge fan of the demand for a Green New Deal, however: Pelosi openly mocked Ocasio-Cortez’s legislation Thursday.
“The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?” she told Politico.
The resolution itself does not explicitly lay out the Green New Deal, but urges Congress to take the initiative to define a course of action against climate change. Some of its proposals are sweeping and ambitious, including a call to upgrade “all existing buildings” in the United States and an overhaul of transportation systems. Ocasio-Cortez told NPR News that Democrats actions against the climate threat have thus far not been nearly radical enough.
"Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us to our country, to the world,” she said. “And so while carbon taxes are nice while things like cap and trade are nice, it's not what's going to save the planet. It could be part of a larger solution but no one has actually scoped out what that larger solution would entail. And so that's really what we're trying to accomplish."
Ocasio-Cortez is aware that her immense fame has brought her outsized political power for a freshman member of Congress. She wants to help Democrats “rediscover the power of public imagination.” She acknowledged that her critics frequently dismiss her ideas as too big or “impossible” — including the Green New Deal, which is still broadly defined and unfocused — but she pointed to President Donald Trump’s ascension as proof that voters want politicians who back big ideas.
“For him that's his wall,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And obviously I'm diametrically opposed to it, but I think that the reason he's so attached to this thing despite the fact that it's not what voters want, despite the fact that it's not what the American people want, is that it's the only vision he has. “I think that what we have a responsibility to do is show what another America looks like."
Supporting the Green New Deal is the latest litmus test for Democratic 2020 aspirants. All five who endorsed the Green New Deal have also endorsed Medicare for All — to varying degrees. Additionally, almost every candidate vying for the 2020 nomination has vowed to reject corporate PAC money — a far-cry from 2016 when eventual nominee Hillary Clinton raked millions upon million in from super PACs. Each candidate has also backed some form of free or debt-free college education.
Cover image: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-New York) waves to the crowd after speaking at Women's Unity Rally organized by Women's March NYC at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)