Ocasio-Cortez Joins Protesters at Pelosi’s Office

Environment groups want commitment from Democratic to take urgent action on climate change

Democratic Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined about 100 protesters who took over Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi’s office over climate change. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images file photo)

Protesters, joined by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took over Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office Tuesday and staged a sit-in calling for her to commit to urgent action on climate change.

The group of more than 100 people was organized by the environmental group Sunrise and Justice Democrats.

The protesters, including Ocasio-Cortez, are calling on Pelosi to create and give real power to a new select committee on climate change. The proposed committee, called the Select Committee for a Green New Deal, would be similar to one Pelosi established as House speaker in 2007, but with more authority.

Between March 2007 and December 2010, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held 80 hearings and briefings exploring American energy resources, clean technologies, climate change and the risks associated with it. Then-Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., led the panel, which didn’t have the power to write legislation.

Pelosi pushed a climate agenda during her time as House speaker, including a cap-and-trade bill in 2009 aimed at reducing emissions.

Ocasio-Cortez is among incoming Democratic members who have not stated a position on whether they will support Pelosi as speaker in the next Congress. A number of her colleagues have said they think the caucus needs new leadership or that they will vote against her as speaker.

Pelosi responded to the protest with a statement in support of the activists and said their “energy” is “leading the way on the climate crisis.”

“I have recommended to my House Democratic colleagues that we reinstate the select committee to address the climate crisis,” Pelosi said in a statement.

The activists presented draft legislation to Pelosi’s office during the demonstration, which would establish the committee and set out a 10-year plan to transition the U.S. economy to become carbon neutral. The activists are also pushing Democratic leaders to reject campaign contributions from fossil fuel industry groups.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is in town for new member orientation, said that the objective of the protest was to support Pelosi’s quest to tackle climate change.

“We welcome the presence of these activists, and we strongly urge the Capitol Police to allow them to continue to organize and participate in our democracy,” Pelosi said.

Watch: New Members Could Spell Trouble for Pelosi’s Speaker Bid

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.