New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez paid her first visit to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol Hill office on Tuesday – alongside a group of millennial protesters staging a sit-in over climate change.
“I don’t want to see my own district under water and I know that Leader Pelosi doesn’t either and I know that what we need to show her is we’re here to back her up in pushing for 100% renewable energy,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. “This is to show that we are here to back up bold action and that, you know she will be supported in that.”
Ocasio-Cortez was in Washington for freshman orientation along with other newly elected members of Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez brushed off questions Tuesday when asked about Pelosi’s leadership.
A number of incoming freshman Democrats, including the New Yorker, publicly raised doubts about Pelosi’s leadership on the campaign trail, with some vowing to oppose her election as speaker. Pelosi has said she’s confident she’ll reclaim the role.
Ocasio-Cortez struck a conciliatory tone on Tuesday despite joining the protest.
“This is not about personality, this is not about rebuke, it’s not about confrontation. It’s about making sure we are getting the job done,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN.
She added, “One of the things that I admire so much about Leader Pelosi is that she comes from a space of activism and organizing and so I think she really appreciates civic engagement and really what I’m here to do is just to support the folks that are here.”
Pelosi issued a statement Tuesday after the sit-in reiterating her intention to ask for a special committee on climate change in the new Congress, prompting a thank-you tweet from Ocasio-Cortez.
Her statement was met with a sharp response from the Sunrise Movement, an advocacy group pushing for a New Deal-style program to tackle climate change, which organized Tuesday’s sit-in.
“We welcome Nancy Pelosi’s support, but words are not enough. 42 have perished in Pelosi’s own home state of California from drought-driven fires in the last few days alone,” they said in a statement. “Her solution is to resurrect a committee with no funding and no power to take legislative action.”
“If Pelosi fails to issue this mandate,” the group added, “it’s time to step aside.”
A statement earlier in the day called for “a Green Jobs for All Program that would put millions of people to work stopping climate change and transforming our economy.”
The Justice Democrats, another group that was among Ocasio-Cortez’s earliest backers, is also pressuring Pelosi and House Democrats to devote more attention — and political capital — to climate change issues.
“Anything less is tantamount to denying the reality of climate change,” Justice Democrats communications director Waleed Shahid said in statement Tuesday. “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.”