‘We are facing a national crisis’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez passionately defends her Green New Deal resolution as Republicans bring it up to fail in the Senate

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a passionate defense of her Green New Deal proposal, a sweeping nonbinding House resolution designed to simultaneously fight climate change and boost the American economy.

One of the biggest criticisms of the ambitious plan — which calls for decarbonizing the economy and implementing massive public works projects and benefits — is its projected cost in taxpayer dollars.

The New York Democrat addressed that issue, arguing that if the US doesn’t spend the billions, if not trillions, of dollars necessary to implement the Green New Deal in the next decade, the country will pay far greater costs as the result of environmental devastation.

Read more: More than 80% of Americans support almost all of the key ideas in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal

“As towns and cities go underwater, 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 said during an unrelated House Financial Services committee hearing on Tuesday. “I can tell you now, the cost of pursuing a Green New Deal will be far less than the cost of not passing it.”

The 29-year-old progressive argued that her resolution isn’t an “elitist” demand, pointing to environmental disasters that have impacted poor urban and rural communities across the country.

“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, which [sic] are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country,” she said. “People are dying … and the response from across the aisle is to introduce an amendment five minutes before a hearing and a markup? This is serious. This should not be a partisan issue.”

Asthma levels in the Bronx have been long-documented. “In the Bronx, New York, one of the poorest counties in the US, asthma is the leading cause of hospitalization and of school absence for children,” according to the introduction of 2009 posted on the National Institutes of Health website. “Pediatric asthma prevalence rates in Bronx children far exceed national pediatric asthma rates.”

More recently, a 2015 profile of New York City Community Health Profile for areas in the South Bronx stated that “the asthma emergency department visit rate among children ages 5 to 17 in Mott Haven and Melrose is nearly triple the citywide rate.”

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled a Green New Deal that will force 2020 Democrats to take an aggressive stance on climate change

She went on, “This is about American lives … Science should not be partisan. We are facing a national crisis.”

The Senate rejected the Green New Deal on Tuesday in what Democrats described as a political stunt orchestrated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to force vulnerable incumbents to stake a position on the controversial plan.

The resolution received a vote without having gone through the formal committee process, and as a result, almost all Democrats voted “present” on the bill, bringing the final vote tally to 57 opposed and zero in favor.

In a tweet Ocasio-Cortez said she urged her colleagues to vote “present.”

Democrats slammed the Republican move as a “stunt.”

“Republicans want to force this political stunt to distract from the fact that they neither have a plan nor a sense of urgency to deal with the threat of climate change,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

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