Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Blasts 'Bipartisan' Congressional Orientation: 'Lobbyists are here...Where's Labor?'

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and fellow congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib have criticized a "Bipartisan Orientation Program" for congressional freshman as a glorified corporate lobbyist event.

The pair railed against this week's three-day program—hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics—in a series of tweets posted Thursday.

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Hiring, Looking for 'Passionate, Creative Thinkers'

"Right now Freshman members of Congress are at a "Bipartisan" orientation w/ briefings on issues," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Thursday. "Invited panelists offer insights to inform new Congress members' views as they prepare to legislate.

Newsweek subscription offers >

"[Number] of Corporate CEOs we've listened to here: 4. [Number] of Labor leaders: 0."

Newsweek subscription offers >

Tlaib quickly retweeted the statement with the comment : "Gary Cohen, former CEO Goldman Sachs addressing new members of Congress today: 'You guys are way over your head, you don't know how the game is played.'

"No Gary, YOU don't know what's coming—a revolutionary Congress that puts people over profits."

The event was billed as an opportunity for representatives-elect to "forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking."

Its main webpage doesn't explicitly mention private industry speakers. But it does list public policy think tanks—the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies—as collaborators.

A press release published in advance of the program lists certain speakers from the private sector, including Cohen, General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra and Johnson & Johnson chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky.

It also features speakers from the political sphere, including current transportation secretary Elaine Chao and former defense secretary and Democrat Ash Carter.Ocasio-Cortez claimed she wasn't alone in questioning the presence of "lobbyists" at the event. "Our "bipartisan" Congressional orientation is co-hosted by a corporate lobbyist group. Other members have quietly expressed to me their concern that this wasn't told to us in advance," she tweeted. "Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where's labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?"

Organizers wrote online the event is "nationally recognized" as "the preeminent educational and preparatory program" for newly-elected members of congress. The program brings together "experts and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds" to allow "thoughtful bipartisan discussions on a variety of public policy issues," according to its website. Event organizers did not immediately respond to Newsweek 's request for comment.

The youngest woman ever elected to congress, Ocasio-Cortez fans have praised her social media savvy. She supports policies including free health care and a Green New Deal. A democratic socialist, conservative commentators have criticized her "wacky" ideas, and limited experience.

Tlaib is one of two Muslim American women elected to Congress this year. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she is known for her progressive stance on issues like college tuition and healthcare. She has also been criticized by conservative pundits as a " far-left newbie" that spells trouble to Democratic leadership.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Lobbyists, Congress, Harvard, Rashida Tlaib
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a progressive fundraiser on August 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Blasts 'Bipartisan' Congressional Orientation: 'Lobbyists are here...Where's Labor?' | U.S.