U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez 'encouraged' despite Senate rejecting 'Green New Deal'

(Reuters) - U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Friday she was “very encouraged” by the Senate vote this week on the “Green New Deal,” the sweeping climate policy resolution she introduced last month, even though the Senate defeated it.

The non-binding resolution, which proposes to eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade, lost 57-0 in the Senate, with 43 Democrats voting “present.”

“You had the Republicans voting ‘no’ and you had virtually the entire Democratic caucus voting ‘present,’ even those in tough states,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Friday. “That is an extraordinary amount of unity within the Senate to actually vote in that cohesive of a bloc, so I’m very encouraged.”

The Green New Deal, unveiled last month by Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Senator Edward Markey, marks the first formal attempt by lawmakers to define potential legislation to create government-led investments in clean energy and infrastructure to transition the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels.

The plan’s name is an homage to the New Deal of the 1930s, a series of government-led programs and projects that President Franklin Roosevelt implemented to aid Americans during the Great Depression.

CELEBRITY STATUS

A rising political star and leader of the progressive left, Ocasio-Cortez defeated a longtime Democratic lawmaker in a 2018 primary to become the youngest woman in Congress at age 29, representing New York’s 14th district in the House.

Her bold stance on climate policy and her strong social media presence have launched her to celebrity status among progressives nationwide.

Republicans have criticized the Green New Deal since its inception for being too radical, and have used the plan and Ocasio-Cortez herself, as rallying points to demonize the Democratic Party.

“The Green New Deal is a wonderful illustration of just how extreme the Democrats have become,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz tweeted on Tuesday, calling it “a radical socialist proposal.”

The Trump administration does not believe action on climate change is necessary and has instead focused on increasing production of oil, gas and coal on federal and private lands.

At a Trump rally in Michigan on Thursday, crowds chanted “AOC sucks!” according to television coverage of the event.

Ocasio-Cortez shrugged off Republicans’ insults on Friday at a town hall hosted by MSNBC in her district in The Bronx.

“I didn’t expect them to make total fools of themselves,” she said of her critics.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Bill Tarrant and G Crosse

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