After House Republicans on Tuesday derided the Green New Deal as a policy that would only serve “rich liberals,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded with a powerful call for bold climate action as families across the nation suffer from record flooding, lead-poisoned water, and polluted air.

“This is not an elitist issue, this is a quality of life issue,” said the congresswoman from New York. “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 are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint.”

“People are dying,” she continued. “This is serious. This should not be a partisan issue. This is about our constituents and all of our lives.”

Addressing concerns about the costs of implementing a Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez said, “We’re going to pay for this whether we pass a Green New Deal or not.”

“Because as towns and cities go underwater, as wildfires ravage our communities, we’re going to pay,” she added. “And we are either going to decide if we’re going to pay to react, or if we are going to pay to be proactive.”

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