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Stephen O’Hanlon, Sunrise Movement, stephen@sunrisemovement.org

Waleed Shahid, Justice Democrats, waleedshahid@justicedemocrats.com

Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats Reject Steny Hoyer’s Toothless Proposal For Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal Committee

WASHINGTON - Following Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer’s comments on Wednesday evening in The Hill, stating that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Select Committee on the Green New Deal would not have subpoena power, Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats released the following statement:

“If true, this decision is an insult to the thousands of young people across the country who have been calling on the Democratic Party leadership to have the courage to stand up to fossil fuel billionaires and make sure our generation has a livable future. Whip Hoyer is standing in the way of a plan that huge majorities of Americans support.” said Varshini Prakash, spokesperson at Sunrise Movement.

“The Democratic Party establishment never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. They have failed to propose solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis and they have failed to fully hold fossil fuel billionaires accountable. Instead of seizing the opportunity right in front of them, they have decided to violate the norms of most select committees by stripping away its power to bring the barons of the industry to account,” said Waleed Shahid, spokesperson at Justice Democrats.

The Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez launched their call for a Green New Deal at a sit-in at Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington on November 13, 2018. The Sunrise Movement led another round of sit-ins on December 10th where 143 young leaders were arrested for a moral act of civil disobedience at Pelosi and Hoyer’s offices in Washington.

A total of 43 Democrats in the House of Representatives now back Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal for a Select Committee on the Green New Deal. The Select Committee proposal also states that no one member can be appointed who receives donations from the fossil fuel industry.

“Our ultimate end goal isn’t a Select Committee. Our goal is to treat Climate Change like the serious, existential threat it is by drafting an ambitious solution on the scale necessary -- a Green New Deal -- to get it done. A weak committee misses the point and endangers people,” Ocasio-Cortez said over Twitter.

“Subpoena power is granted to committees in the standard house rules. The phrasing of the article makes it sound like we are asking for extra power. In fact we are simply asking for what is the usual power granted to all committees,” said Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, over Twitter.

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming that existed from 2007 to 2011 had the power to issue subpoenas and used that power to compel the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush “to disclose its progress on formulating climate change rules for automobiles.”

Polls show the Green New Deal has strong bipartisan support. A Yale and George Mason poll found 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans back the Green New Deal plan. The Select Committee would mandate that Congress create a plan for a rapid economic mobilization to stop climate change over the coming decade, in line with the UN’s recommendations in the IPCC report.

The United Nation's climate research body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a monumental report in October declaring that the world has only 12 years to enact massive changes to global energy infrastructure to limit irreversible warming of the planet. The IPCC report also noted that while the scale of the mobilization required to tackle climate change is unprecedented, the speed is similar to government-led efforts in the United States to mobilize for World War II.

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Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We're building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.

Justice Democrats is a grassroots, small-dollar funded independent political organization founded by former staff of the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign. Justice Democrats were instrumental in the movement to call on candidates to reject corporate PAC donations. The organization pushed Medicare For All, Abolish ICE and a Green New Deal toward the center of the political debate in 2018. Justice Democrats pulled one of the biggest political upsets in modern American history by recruiting, training, and ultimately electing Ocasio-Cortez.

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