A trip that would have shown a rare moment of bipartisanship between lawmakers in the House of Representatives appeared to fall apart on Friday.
Last month, New York progressive Rep. Ocasio-Cortez made headlines when she sparred with Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr over climate change policy. Subsequently, she accepted an invitation from Barr to “go underground” in a coal mine in his home district.
Barr said he wanted to introduce Ocasio-Cortez to Kentucky miners “who will tell you what the Green New Deal would mean for their families, their paychecks.” Barr argued the sweeping resolution to fight climate change and stimulate the economy would devastate the fossil fuel industry and usher in socialism.
The New Yorker said she would be happy to accept his invitation, and she argued that her legislation would fund the pensions for out-of-work coal miners.
Barr then acknowledged in an interview with the Lexington Herald Leader that there aren’t any active coal mines in his district, and he praised Ocasio-Cortez “genuine” and “heartfelt” passion on the issue.
But last Friday, the goodwill seemed to flip.
Barr tweeted that the invitation to Ocasio-Cortez now had a condition: the freshman Democrats had to apologize for her criticism of GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s condemnation of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s remark about 9/11. Barr called on Ocasio-Cortez to apologize to Crenshaw for her “lack of civility” before making a visit to Kentucky.
Ocasio-Cortez’s response to the Barr’s statement made it clear that a visit to the Bluegrass state with the GOP lawmaker is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
“GOP’s getting scared that up close, their constituents will realize I’m fighting harder for their healthcare than their own Reps,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to the development.
Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, also told the Louisville Courier-Journal that a visit to Kentucky without Barr could still happen.
“Luckily, we still have open borders with Kentucky,” Trent said Friday. “We don’t need Congressman Barr to meet with coal miners and have a town hall, though we’d love his participation if we do.”
On Monday, another Republican from Kentucky, Rep. James Comer, said he didn’t “see any upside to bringing Ocasio-Cortez” to the state. He added of Ocasio-Cortez, “a lot of Republicans are making a mistake picking on her.”
“Ocasio-Cortez has a movement of millennials that follow her,” Comer said on a Lexington news program. “She is smart, and I think that we need to be very prepared when we debate her on issues that we’re having a hard time with. There’s still a future for coal, but we need to make sure that we’re debating the right people on that issue.”
On Tuesday, Comer appeared to ignore his own advice, tweeting in response to Ocasio-Cortez, “Lol, my constituents know that your Socialist policies like #MedicareForAll and #GreenNewDeal will not work.”