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Watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Powerful Speech on Climate and Elitism: ‘Science Should Not Be Partisan’

Democratic New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez zeroed in on criticism of the Green New Deal in an impassioned speech to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services Tuesday afternoon.

She defended its potential cost and rejected claims from Wisconsin representative Sean Duffy that the resolution was hypocritical and elitist and would ultimately raise housing costs for everyday Americans.

“Over eight members of this committee have signed on to the Green New Deal,” Duffy said at a markup on legislation, including a resolution on homelessness. “If you’re a rich liberal...it sounds great because you can afford to retrofit your home or build a new home that has zero emissions."

“But...look at the cost increases the Green New Deal will have on poor American families—it’s absolutely outrageous,” he continued. “If you’re a poor family just trying to make ends meet, it’s a horrible idea.”

Duffy criticized “elite” representatives that he claimed support the Green New Deal but take Uber SUVs across the country or private jets to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The number of jets that descend each year on the resort town made headlines in January, given that politicians discuss issues like economic inequality at the conference.

Ocasio-Cortez rejected Duffy’s claim that the resolution was hypocritical and failed to put the interests of everyday Americans first. “One year ago, I was waitressing in a taco shop in downtown Manhattan. I just got health insurance for the first time a month ago. This is not an elitist issue. This is a quality of life issue,” she told the committee.

“You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx [who] are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to Flint [Michigan],” she continued. “You’re telling them that those kids are trying to get on a plane to Davos? People are dying. They are dying.”

The congresswoman argued politicians should work across the aisle on climate issues. “This is about American lives and it should not be partisan. Science should not be partisan.” America is facing a “national crisis,” she added, and if politicians don’t respond as seriously as they did to events like the Great Depression and World War II, “then I don’t know what we are here doing.”

Addressing the issue of cost later in the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez said America would “pay” for climate change, whether it passed a Green New Deal or not. “As towns and cities go under water, as wildfires ravage our communities, we’re going to pay. And we have to decide whether we’re going to pay to react, or pay to be proactive.”

She called on politicians to bring Americans working in agriculture to the table to  improve the resolution. “Let’s hold hearings. Let’s add provisions. Let’s amend the legislation.”

Clips of Ocasio-Cortez's speeches have made waves online, with many users praising her argument.

"Watch every second of this... @AOC is so incredibly spot on," Twitter user Brian Tyler Cohen wrote alongside a video of the representative that has been watched 3.5 million times as of 6:00 a.m. ET Wednesday. 

"She’s exactly what we need right now to cut through the Immense load of BS in Washington right now. Game on @AOC. Represent girl!" commented user Pete Worth.

But others criticized the freshman congresswoman. "If by spot on you mean incoherent then yes. She doesn't have an original thought in her head. She'd be lost without the notes someone else writes for her," commented user Deana Nicole.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Green New Deal Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the 2019 Athena Film Festival at New York CIty's Barnard College on March 3. Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Athena Film Festival

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