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GOP lawmaker withdraws invite for AOC to visit Kentucky mine

“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.
Obama's New Proposed Regulations On Coal Energy Production Met With Ire Through Kentucky's Coal Country
A bulldozer operates atop a coal mound in Shelbiana, Kentucky, on June 3, 2014.Luke Sharrett / Getty Images file

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is firing back at her Republican colleagues after one of them rescinded an invitation to visit a coal mine in Kentucky.

“GOP’s getting scared that up close, their constituents will realize I’m fighting harder for their healthcare than their own Reps,” she goaded them on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez's taunt comes after GOP Rep. James Comer offered an alternative reason why his fellow Kentucky Republican, Rep. Andy Barr, might want to rescind his coal mine invite — and it isn't because of Barr's stated rationale that she had gotten into a Twitter spat with another GOP member.

Lawmakers in his party are "making a mistake picking on" the New York freshman over issues such as nonrenewable energy because of her smarts, policy preparation and massive millennial following, Comer said Monday on the Lexington NBC affiliate's sports and news program “Hey Kentucky!

"I don't see any upside to bringing Ocasio-Cortez in," Comer said, adding that it's "not likely" that a visit would change her views about coal in part because, he thinks, "she's pretty set in her ways."

“But Ocasio-Cortez has a movement of millennials that follow her," Comer said. "Ocasio-Cortez is a lot more prepared when she comes to committee meetings. ... 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.”

Comer was answering a question about Barr's decision to take back the invitation he extended to Ocasio-Cortez last month to visit his home state in order to learn how her Green New Deal proposal would affect coal miners and their families.

Despite his own caution the day before to his GOP colleagues, Comer tweeted Tuesday in response to Ocasio-Cortez's remark, “Lol, my constituents know that your Socialist policies like #MedicareForAll and #GreenNewDeal will not work.”

A representative for Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment to NBC News about the flap.

Barr had made the invitation to Ocasio-Cortez after the self-described democratic socialist ardently defended her Green New Deal at a congressional hearing against criticisms that the environmental policy goals outlined in the plan represented "elitist" concerns.

"This is not an elitist issue," Ocasio-Cortez said at the hearing after mentioning her working-class background. "This is a quality-of-life issue. You want to tell people that their concern for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to that 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, whose kids have their blood, is ascending in lead levels. Their brains are damaged for the rest of their lives. Call them elitist."

Ocasio-Cortez told the congressman she would be "happy" to make the visit, noting that her proposal would include funding coal miners' pensions with the aim of ensuring "a just transition" and investment in jobs.

But Barr rescinded his invitation last week after Ocasio-Cortez got into Twitter tangle with Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, for his criticism of their fellow freshman Illhan Omar's remarks on a completely separate issue — the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Crenshaw and others, including conservative media, blasted Omar, D-Minn, for comments she made at an event last month in which she used vague phrasing that some saw as minimizing the 9/11 attacks.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, was founded "because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar said.

Crenshaw tweeted in response: “First member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as 'some people who did something.' Unbelievable.”

Ocasio-Cortez then responded to Crenshaw, an Afghanistan War veteran and former Navy SEAL, calling him a hypocrite.

“In 2018, right-wing extremists were behind almost all U.S. domestic terrorist killings," she wrote on Twitter. "Why don’t you go do something about that?"

That prompted Barr to demand an apology — and suspend his invitation.

"I urge you to apologize to our colleague prior to coming to visit Kentucky," Barr said in a letter Friday posted on Twitter, adding that her comments “demonstrate a lack of civility” toward Crenshaw.

Ocasio-Cortez's spokesman, Corbin Trent, suggested in a statement to The Courier-Journal last week that the congresswoman could always visit the state on her own.

"Luckily, Kentucky has open borders," he said.