House Democrats don't know what to make of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s incoming chief of staff and the co-founder of the progressive political action committee Justice Democrats, denied that incoming progressives want to take power from anyone. “We think climate change is important enough to get its own select committee,” he told me. “It would be in addition to the Energy and Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction.”

But several Democratic staffers I talked to, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak frankly, expressed their agreement with Pallone. Experimenting with committee structure just as the Democrats are reclaiming the House majority is “not the most informed choice,” said one House leadership aide. Of course, the aide added, the new members’ excitement is understandable—they just “haven’t learned how everything works yet.”

“While I think it’s fun she’s shaking things up,” said another Democratic staffer, “there are reasons there are committees and jurisdiction.” The move, he added, could “actually weaken [Pallone’s] committee.”

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