Pelosi praises enthusiasm behind 'Green New Deal' after seeming to brush it off

Pelosi praises enthusiasm behind 'Green New Deal' after seeming to brush it off
© Stefani Reynolds

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Sherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Turf war derails push on surprise medical bills | Bill would tax e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaign | .5M ad blitz backs vulnerable Dems on drug prices MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday welcomed the enthusiasm surrounding the "Green New Deal" climate bill backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez to hold campaign rallies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas Overwhelming majority say social media companies have too much influence: poll MORE (D-N.Y.) — a day after she appeared to brush off the legislation as just another suggestion in an interview with Politico

Pelosi at her press conference said she had not yet seen the bill but said she welcomed “the enthusiasm that is there.”

"Quite frankly I haven’t seen it, but I do know that it’s enthusiastic, and we welcome all the enthusiams that are out there," she said. 

Pelosi said public sentiment in favor of addressing climate change — and the green new deal specifically — will help build the case for addressing the issue. 

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“The green new deal points out that the public is much more aware of the challenge that we face, and that is a good thing, because the public sentiment will help us pass the most bold — common-denominator bold — initiatives, with an interest in, again, saving the planet while we create jobs, protect the health of our children and pass the planet on in a very serious way,” said Pelosi, who has long been an advocate for tackling climate change.

In the Wednesday interview with Politico, however, Pelosi was not nearly as effusive in discussing the green new deal, which Ocasio-Cortez officially introduced Thursday.

“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said of the green new deal in the interview. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”

Ocasio-Cortez's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Pelosi separately named the eight Democrats who will serve on the new special climate change committee Thursday. 

The panel will include three freshmen, but Ocasio-Cortez is not among them. 

The New York freshman was among the lawmakers disappointed when Pelosi said the new special committee would not have the power to advance legislation or issue subpoenas. Members of other standing committees had opposed giving the new panel those powers. 

Several prominent Democrats running for president, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate New poll finds Sanders surging to within 7 points of Biden in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Krystal Ball rips Warren's 'passive-aggressive' swipes at rivals MORE (D-Mass.), have offered support for the green new deal. 

Pelosi on Thursday sought to downplay those divisions, saying the special committee would play "a leading role in taking testimony [and] building current information on solutions on the climate crisis."
 
"But," she quickly added, "it would be a Congresswide initiative."

Mike Lillis contributed to this article.

Updated at 12:41 p.m.