Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) won a coveted seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday following a battle with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
“Rice and Ocasio-Cortez have been battling behind the scenes for weeks to secure one of the few open seats on the exclusive committee, which oversees everything from health care policy to climate issues,” Politico reported.
The issue came to a head at a private meeting of the Steering and Policy Committee, during which “Democrats were forced to choose between the two members in a tense — and awkward — secret ballot vote,” the article read.
Rice won in a vote of 46 to 13 after a few moderate Democrats “openly criticized Ocasio-Cortez,” the report continued:
Just before the Steering Committee moved to vote on the Energy and Commerce slots, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team presented a slate of their preferred candidates for four out of the five seats. But notably, top Democrats did not choose a nominee for the final seat, which is essentially reserved for a New York member — forcing Rice and Ocasio-Cortez into a head-to-head matchup.
The panel launched into an intense round of speeches on each candidate, with several Democrats speaking up to lobby against Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman member and social media star who is seen as a political threat by many of the caucus’s moderates for her far-left policies. On the video call, several Democrats called out Ocasio-Cortez’s efforts to help liberal challengers take out their own incumbents, as well as her refusal to pay party campaign dues.
During an interview Wednesday with the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” after he mentioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
And so even conservative members of the party, who think Nancy Pelosi is far too liberal for them, don’t necessarily have any viable alternatives, which is why whenever there’s a challenge, it kind of collapses. And that is, I think, the result of just many years of power being concentrated in leadership with a lack of real grooming of a next generation of leadership.
Following Thursday’s vote, Rice said in a statement to Patch.com, “It is an honor to be selected by my Democratic colleagues to serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 117th Congress.”