Ocasio-Cortez accepts GOP lawmaker's invitation to tour Kentucky coal mine

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe Memo: Trump's risky bid for attention Conservative former NFL player says Trump met with him to discuss 'black America' Louisiana police officer fired after saying on Facebook that Ocasio-Cortez 'needs a round' MORE (D-N.Y.) this week accepted the invitation of a Republican colleague to tour a Kentucky coal mine in order to see how her Green New Deal could affect the industry.

Rep. Andy BarrAndy Hale BarrMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Third Kentucky Democrat announces challenge to McConnell McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh MORE (R-Ky.) invited the freshman Democrat to visit his home state after she gave a “heartfelt” speech about the measure, McClatchy reported on Wednesday.

Barr, a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus, asked Ocasio-Cortez during a House Financial Services Committee meeting to “go underground” in a mine with him to meet the men and women who work there and see how their jobs could be endangered. 

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“I’d be happy to go to Kentucky, and I’d also like to note that in the Green New Deal, one of the things I advocate for is fully funding the pensions of coal miners in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia because we want a just transition to make sure that we’re investing in jobs across those swaths of the country,” Ocasio-Cortez responded. 

Barr later told McClatchy that the offer was impromptu but would give him an opportunity to “showcase the working people of Kentucky.”

“I want her to learn about the coal industry the way I have learned about the coal industry, not through textbooks, not through politically charged movies, but by talking to human beings,” Barr told the outlet.

This would not be Ocasio-Cortez’s first visit to Kentucky. The New Yorker told McClatchy that she visited the state when she first started her congressional campaign in order to meet with grass-roots organizations. 

“It’s very close to my heart,” Ocasio-Cortez said of struggling areas of Appalachia. “Folks may not think of that because I’m from the Bronx, but my family in Puerto Rico was a rural family too. I understand some of the challenges.”

The Senate on Tuesday voted against taking up the Green New Deal in a 0-57 vote. The resolution would seek to combat climate change by investing in eco-friendly jobs and transforming the economy into one solely reliant on renewable sources of energy within a decade.

Ocasio-Cortez told the outlet that she considered “economic and social dignity” of coal miners when she was drafting the plan, citing the high cancer level rates and the environmental effects of mountaintop removal mining which can cause an influx of debris.

“We have to plan a future for all of our communities, no matter what,” she said. “Failure to plan is planning to fail and I feel like we’ve been failing Appalachian communities for a very long time and it’s time to turn that ship around.”

Barr told McClatchy that the resolution is “shortsighted” because it does not take into consideration the affordability and reliability of coal.

“I’m not a climate denier, I’m a climate thinker,” he said.

Both offices confirmed that the visit is in the works but no date has been set for the tour.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Barr said.