1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t get a spot on Kathy Castor’s Climate Change Committee

The freshman Democrat is a driving force behind the Green New Deal but she didn’t make the cut.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., arrives to hear President Donald Trump deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Published Feb. 7
Updated Feb. 7

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday announced the Democratic members of the new Climate Change Committee, to be led by Tampa Rep. Kathy Castor.

Noticeably absent from the committee roster is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman progressive who has used her vast star power to pressure for a bolder strategy to address global warming. Ocasio-Cortez joined a sit-in protest in Pelosi’s office, demanding a climate change committee with legislative and subpoena power focused on the so-called Green New Deal, a plan to drastically curb carbon emissions by 2030.

Castor has vowed to mold the new committee in the spirit of the Green New Deal, she told the Tampa Bay Times last month.

“I’m not going to rest until we make true progress,” Castor said.

RELATED: Tension in Democratic Party has a home on Kathy Castor’s climate change committee

The Times asked Castor’s office if the Tampa Democrat had a say in who made the cut for her committee. We’ll update the story with her answer.

Update: Here’s what she said: “I made suggestions to the Speaker and discussed the balance and diversity of the committee. Many more members requested to serve on the committee than the nine seats available. There are many, many smart and talented members in the House Democratic Caucus who are ready to tackle climate change. The members announced today are outstanding, smart and devoted to clean energy solutions, quality jobs and a future for our children free from perilous extreme weather events, suffocating heat and dire health impacts.”

Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday released the legislative framework for the Green New Deal, which sets the goal of moving all United States energy production to renewable resources.

“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” Ocasio-Cortez told NPR.

Three of the Climate Change Committee members are from California and none represent the Northeast. They are: Reps. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Julia Brownley of California, Sean Casten of Illinois, Jared Huffman of California, Mike Levin of California, Donald McEachin of Virginia and Joe Neguse of Colorado.

Republicans have not yet said who they will appoint to the committee, nor whether they will seat climate change skeptics or members of the party who believe the scientific research.

Update: Here’s Castor’s full statement on the new committee members.

“I am humbled by Speaker Pelosi’s confidence in me to lead the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and I again thank her for the opportunity to tackle climate change head on. The climate crisis already is taking a toll on my neighbors in Florida and communities across America. We have a moral obligation to act to protect our great country and future generations from the costly impacts of the changing climate. I am determined to begin work immediately and look forward to the commitment, passion, experience and perspectives of each of my Democratic colleagues.

“The newly appointed Democratic members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis are ready to stand up to corporate polluters and special interests as we press for urgent action to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward a clean energy economy with a qualified workforce and a just transition. Climate deniers, fossil fuel companies and other special interests have had an outsized influence in promoting outdated, dirty policies and we will stand up to these forces – we have no choice. We do not have the time for distractions or delay. Our moral obligation to act includes a responsibility to ensure that Americans who suffer disproportionately from climate change – workers, communities of color and low-income Americans – enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as the wealthy.

“The Committee will propose new national policies for a clean energy economy based upon recommendations from citizens across America. This Committee’s work will be informed by settled, cutting edge science and research focused on how climate change is impacting our people and communities – and how we overcome these impacts. As President Kennedy once said at an earlier watershed moment in our nation’s history, ‘Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable – and we believe they can do it again.’

“Climate change is not up for debate – it is real and its costly consequences are undeniable. We must act boldly together, and I look forward to working with this distinguished and determined group of colleagues to do just that.”


  1. Debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael litters the ground in Mexico Beach. A year after Hurricane Michael, Bay County, Florida, is still in crisis. Thousands are homeless, medical care and housing are at a premium, and domestic violence is increasing. Michael was among the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States. GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Senators for the first time seriously addressed the complaints of people in the Panhandle on Tuesday.
  2. Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse environment in this room at the Curaleaf Homestead Cultivation Facility. This environment controls the amount of natural sunlight and artificial light the plants are exposed to, as well as the temperature. EMILY MICHOT  |  Miami Herald
    An Atlanta broker is listing one license for $40 million and the other for $55 million.
  3. Screenshot from Facebook. Facebook
    The claim comes from a widely shared Facebook post.
  4. The 12 Democratic presidential candidates in the next debate are, from top left, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, and, from lower left, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. Los Angeles Times
    The field is still thick with 12 candidates set to debate Tuesday night. Here’s what to watch for.
  5. FILE- In this Oct. 11, 2018 file photo, rescue personnel perform a search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla. A year after Hurricane Michael, Bay County, Florida, is still in crisis. Thousands are homeless, medical care and housing are at a premium, and domestic violence is increasing. Michael was among the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States. This summer, county officials unveiled a blueprint to rebuild. Among their ideas: Use shipping containers and 3-D technology to build new houses and offer signing bonuses to lure new doctors.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Lawmakers today are discussing why nearly 12 percent of claims are still open.
  6. Rain from Tropical Storm Hermine and high tides flooded streets around Tampa last September. A new analysis projects that sea level in Tampa Bay could rise 5 to 19 inches by 2040. That is prompting local officials to look at plans to anticipate and cope with the changes. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times (2016)
    “We lost a decade,’’ said Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa.
  7. Florida Governor elect Ron DeSantis, right, thanks Lev Parnas on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Orlando at the watch party for DeSantis. DeSantis defeated Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    A Tampa Bay Times photograph and a video posted by a Reuters reporter shows Parnas smiling with DeSantis amid the chaos of the watch party.
  8. Andrew Gillum.
    Sharon Lettman-Hicks, one of Andrew Gillum’s closest advisers, helped the Florida Democratic Party register new voters.
  9. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. [DAVID SANTIAGO | Miami Herald]
    Scott’s received contributions from the two associates of Rudy Giuliani who were arrested last week.
  10. Emissions from cars and trucks are a major source of the greenhouse gases fueling climate change. An analysis by the New York Times found that air pollution from those sources has increased in the Tampa Bay area by 55 percent since 1990. [Times (2008)]
    Florida once had emissions inspections, but Jeb Bush ended them in 2000