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Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered at a performing arts high school in the Bronx on Saturday to hear the first inaugural address of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly-elected liberal firebrand and youngest member of Congress.
Ten minutes before she took the stage, a group of young people inside Renaissance High School for Musical Theater and the Arts began chanting her initials — "A-O-C, A-O-C" — and clapping. When she took her seat, the entire audience gave her a standing ovation.
After a New York judge swore her in and local politicians provided her an introduction, Ocasio-Cortez launched into a formal address to establish the agenda that would drive her congressional work for the next two years, an unusual move for a freshman member of Congress.
“Thank you for being here in the community,” she said, "choosing to show up for each other.”
Her speech touched on a number of issues, including the government shutdown, immigration, her Green New Deal and Amazon's decision to pull out of a deal that would have established one of the company's headquarters in Queens.
“We don’t have to settle for scraps in the greatest city in the world," she said, referring to the $3 billion tax incentives provided to Amazon, a company valued at over $1 trillion. "If others don’t want to negotiate with us, that’s not our problem.”
Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most prominent elected officials to receive flak over the company's decision to pull out of the deal. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the deal would have brought a flood of new jobs to the area and increased property values.
But the congresswoman did not waver in her opposition, calling on her constituents to be brave and unafraid. She encouraged them to speak truth to power, build a community capable of change and establish a relationship with her office, promising to hold a town hall every month.
“I’m still looking forward to our next two years,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez also defended her Green New Deal, which the Republican Party had blasted since her office first introduced it.
“The Green New Deal doesn’t belong to me. The Green New Deal belongs to indigenous communities, it belongs to the residents of Flint it belongs to Puerto Rico, it belongs to the victims of wildfires.”
Though only a freshman lawmaker, Ocasio-Cortez secured a spot on the House Financial Services Committee last month, also known as the House Oversight Committee, which regulates and oversees the financial services industry.
In the past, she has said that she’s “fighting for a working class agenda,” supporting things like universal healthcare, tuition-free colleges and universities and renewable energy.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to digging into the student loan crisis, examining for-profit prisons/ICE detention, and exploring the development of public & postal banking,” said Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter after joining the committee.
Ocasio-Cortez’s address comes as she has secured a lot of momentum and support on the more liberal side of the party and on social media.
Her speech at the House Financial Services Committee floor slamming campaign finance policies, became the most viewed video of any politician in the history of Twitter, according to a video analytics firm.
Earlier this week, she spoke in front of thousands of people attending a rally in Washington, calling on Congress to enact permanent protections for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status at a time when the Trump administration has tried to end the immigration program multiple times.
But while speaking to her constituents on Saturday, she focused on working together to "continue to create community."