After just two weeks in Congress, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) has already made quite a splash in Washington. She seemingly is attacked by conservatives nearly every day, and at the same time has become on of the main spokespersons for the progressive left wing of her party.
The vibrant 29 year-old took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives last night to give her first floor speech and delivered a cutting rebuke of Donald Trump over the president’s ongoing partial government shutdown.
In her three-minute speech Ocasio-Cortez claimed that Trump’s shutdown, now nearly four weeks old, is not about Trump’s demands for a border wall, but “the erosion of American democracy.”
“It is actually not about a wall, it is not about the border, and it is certainly not about the well-being of everyday Americans,” the congresswoman said. “The truth is, this shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms.”
”It is not normal to hold 800,000 workers’ paychecks hostage. It is not normal to shut down the government when we don’t get what we want,” she continued. “And it is certainly not normal to starve the people we serve for a proposal that is wildly unpopular among the American people.”
She also told a story about one of her constituents, a Yemeni immigrant who works as an air traffic controller supervisor at New York’s JFK airport. He has two children and a mortgage, and missed his first paycheck last week due to the funding lapse, Ocasio-Cortez said.
“Federal workers’ jobs are stressful enough,” she said, before calling out Trump for “anti-immigrant sentiment,” which she says also contributes to her constituent’s stress.
The outspoken New Yorker concluded her rousing speech by pointing out that Trump has a “responsibility” to her constituents and all federal workers’ well-being, saying:
“President Trump has a responsibility to all air traffic controllers, FDA inspectors, TSA workers. And he has a responsibility to maintain the basic functioning of the United States government.”
Earlier in the day Ocasio-Cortez joined several other new Democratic representative in a march to the Senate side of the Capitol. They hand-delivered a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) demanding that he end the shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history.
The truth is that either Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell could easily take steps to end the government shutdown. Trump won’t do it because he would lose face with the right-wing media that he is so anxious to please. And McConnell won’t do it because it would upset Trump along with many other Republicans who blindly follow the president like sheep to the slaughter.
Nancy Pelosi cannot end the shutdown on her own because 95% of Democrats don’t want her to give in to Trump. She can, however, inflict maximum pain on the president and cause maximum political damage to his party.
Eventually the shutdown will end, and the longer it goes on the worse it will be, not just for federal workers but also for Donald Trump and every member of the Republican Party.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.