Energy & Environment

Pelosi names Dems to new climate panel — but not AOC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday named eight Democrats to the new special climate change committee, but freshman lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) was not among them.

The panel, which is charged with examining climate change and steps to mitigate it, will include lawmakers with a wide range of tenures. Three of those Democratic members will be freshmen, and Ocasio-Cortez said she turned down an offer from Pelosi to be on the committee.

“This new Select Committee will spearhead Democrats’ work to develop innovative, effective solutions to prevent and reverse the climate crisis,” Pelosi said in a statement. “It will generate the energy and action required to permanently reduce pollution so that we can honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.”{mosads}

The Democratic members are Reps. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (Va.) and Joseph Neguse (Colo.).

“It has never been more clear that climate change is the existential threat of our time, and one that is particularly pressing for my generation,” Neguse, one of the freshmen on the panel, said in a statement Thursday. “We must take bold action on the climate crisis now in order to preserve this world — not only for my generation, but also for every generation to come, like that of my six-month-old daughter.”

Ocasio-Cortez said at a press conference Thursday that Pelosi had invited her to sit on the panel.

“She did in fact invite me to be on the committee,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters. “So I don’t think this is a snub. I don’t think it is anything like that.”

Even before Democrats won the House majority in the November midterm elections, Pelosi made clear she wanted to resurrect the special climate committee that she established when Democrats previously controlled the chamber, 2007 to 2011. At that time, the panel was called the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

Pelosi disappointed many progressives, including Ocasio-Cortez, when she said the new panel would not have the power to advance legislation or issue subpoenas. Instead, it can only make recommendations to other committees.

That decision was made after veteran Democrats on other panels, like Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), objected to a powerful select committee. 

Pelosi previously named Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) to be chairwoman of the committee.

Republican members of the panel have not yet been named. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is responsible for picking the five GOP lawmakers.

Politico first reported Pelosi’s appointment of the Democratic members.

After Democrats won the House majority in November, Ocasio-Cortez emerged as an outspoken advocate for combating climate change and pushed for the forthcoming select committee to be focused on formulating a Green New Deal that would move the country toward 100 percent renewable electricity.

She and Markey, now a senator, introduced a nonbinding resolution Thursday to support a Green New Deal.

When asked why she declined the invitation to join the new climate panel, Ocasio-Cortez told reporters, “I serve on the Environmental Subcommittee on Oversight, four subcommittees.”
 
“We’re doing this,” she added, referring to the Green New Deal.
 
Miranda Green contributed.
 
Updated at 2:07 p.m.
Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Donald McEachin Ed Markey Frank Pallone Jr. Jared Huffman Julia Brownley Kathy Castor Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi Sean Casten Suzanne Bonamici
See all Hill.TV See all Video