Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest member of Congress at just 29 years old. She’s a freshman, having been elected in 2018.
As Joe Biden wryly pointed out, what she essentially did — given the voting tendencies of her district — was win a primary.
She has two committee assignments and four subcommittee assignments; one of those is on the House Financial Services Committee, a plum task for someone who claims to want to make student loans a key legislative priority. This is pretty typical stuff.
And yet, in a July 5 interview with “The New Yorker Radio Hour,” Ocasio-Cortez suspects she’s being given those assignments just to keep her busy and out of the way.
According to Fox News, Ocasio-Cortez thinks that assignments on active committees are meant to keep her from doing what she should be doing, which I guess is saving the world through viral videos or something? Not quite sure here.
“I was assigned to some of the busiest committees and four subcommittees,” she said in the interview for the WNYC radio show, which was published Tuesday. “So my hands are full. And sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to keep me busy.”
So, she’s either saying this is busy work by being put on the Financial Services Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, or that being a congresswoman means being busy. Either way, I append no comment.
By the way, there was one select committee she didn’t join, and it seems to have something to do with her icy relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“[We don’t have a relationship] that’s I think distinguished from anyone else,” she said. “Like, if there’s a legislative need, you know. The last time I kind of spoke to her one-on-one was when she asked me to join the Select Committee on Climate Change … I said no.”
And why, pray tell? Well, as usual, because she’s the boss now.
“I had made very specific requests, which I thought were rather reasonable for the Select Committee on Climate Change,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“I asked that it have a mission to try to draft legislation by 2020 so that — so that we essentially have a 2-year mission to put together whether it’s a Green New Deal or whether it’s some sweeping climate change legislation that — that the select committee has a legislative mission.”
“I asked for it to have subpoena power, which most committees do,” she added.
“The last select committee had subpoena power, but now this one doesn’t. And I asked for the members who sit on the select committee to not take any fossil fuel money. And none of those requests were accommodated, and so I didn’t join the committee.”
So, just so we’re clear, being a freshman congresswoman means being busy, it means being on committees you may not want to be and it means you don’t necessarily get to call the shots when you get to Washington. It means your job involves legislating and going through hearings which, as anyone who has sat through the overnight hours on C-SPAN can attest to, aren’t always thrill-rides. Your job isn’t rage-tweeting about the president or coming up with skeletal, moribund-on-arrival legislation like the Green New Deal.
For someone who wants to save the world, she seems relatively unwilling to put in the work to make it happen. If this was somehow a dealbreaker for Ocasio-Cortez, I could have saved her all that trouble she went to of unseating Joe Crowley.
The lacuna between the interview’s recording and its publishing was an unfortunate one, as it became increasingly clear AOC’s “Look at me: I’m the captain now” shtick was wearing thin with Speaker Pelosi. On July 6, Pelosi delivered a jab to Ocasio-Cortez so thinly veiled the veil may as well have been woven from the same material used in the emperor’s new clothes.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she was quoted as saying in a Maureen Dowd piece in The New York Times.
“But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
In case you didn’t get the point, Dowd’s piece was titled “It’s Nancy Pelosi’s Parade.” In response, Ocasio-Cortez went for the clapback that is to the Democrats what sampling ’80s pop songs was to P. Diddy: Pelosi’s a racist.
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez said to The Washington Post. “But the persistent singling out … it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful … the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
If these newly elected women of color are demanding that special committees be run exactly the way they want as if they were the only persons on the committee, or if those newly elected women of color consider their committee and subcommittee assignments busywork foisted upon them like punishment by a censorious teacher, and if some of those other women of color like to engage in blatant anti-Semitism or stunts like yelling — on the day that they were inaugurated — that “we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf—-r,” the fact that these individuals happen to be women of color is, well, incidental.
Correlation isn’t necessarily causality and, in this case, it definitely isn’t.
But keep dreaming, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. Maybe someday, Speaker Pelosi will actually realize how you are the boss. It’ll probably be on the same day you get all the little children in the world to clap their hands at once, but that’s still technically a hypothetical day. And if you think you’re involved in unproductive busy work now, just try accomplishing that.
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