Ocasio-Cortez loses bid for seat on House Energy and Commerce panel

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) bid for a spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is over. 

The liberal congresswoman was snubbed Thursday, with fellow New York Democrat Rep. Kathleen Rice being chosen by colleagues for what Politico described as a “prized” seat on the panel.

AOC iced out

According to Politico, Ocasio-Cortez and Rice had been fighting “behind the scenes” over the seat, one of just five open ones on the committee, for weeks.

In a vote by secret ballot during a private Thursday video call, the Steering and Policy Committee chose Rice, a moderate, third-term lawmaker and former prosecutor based on Long Island, over the first-term, Bronx and Queens-based Ocasio-Cortez by a margin of 46–13, Politico reported.

Since her own shocking primary victory over former Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez has become known for her far-left politics and advocacy on issues like climate change. According to NBC News, she served as a climate adviser to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Tensions between the party’s moderate and progressive sections were inflamed after the election, and they reportedly boiled over at the Thursday meeting, where several Democrats said they did not appreciate AOC’s role in supporting primary challenges to established Democrats.

“I’m taking into account who works against other members in primaries and who doesn’t,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who held onto his seat against an AOC-backed candidate, said, according to Politico.

Not enough “relationships”

Some senior Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee “privately voiced concerns about Ocasio-Cortez landing the seat” because they worried her politics would undermine bipartisan cooperation, Politico further reported.

Meanwhile, a member of the committee told Axios that Ocasio-Cortez “doesn’t have enough relationships” and “needs to learn from this,” but noted that the “vote would have been very different if it wasn’t secret.”

The other spots went to Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), and Lori Trahan (D-MA). On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) congratulated the committee’s new members, along with new members of the Appropriations, Financial Services, and Ways and Means committees.

Rice, who already sits on the House Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs committees, said it was an “honor” to be chosen.

“New Yorkers deserve a fighter to lower the cost of prescription drugs, address climate change, and improve our drinking water,” she said, according to The Hill. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to help the incoming Biden–Harris Administration combat the COVID-19 pandemic and build back our economy.”

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