At a House Financial Services Committee hearing on March 26, Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) invited Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "to come to Eastern Kentucky, where thousands of coal miners no longer have paychecks," and listen as they "tell you what the Green New Deal would mean for their families, their paychecks." Ocasio-Cortez, one of the leading proponents of the Green New Deal, said she'd be "happy" to go.
Last Friday, Barr added some conditions to the invitation, asking Ocasio-Cortez "to apologize for her comments to our colleague" Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) "before she plans her trip to Kentucky." He cited her criticism of Crenshaw's criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), explaining, "We need to treat all of our colleagues with respect and dignity." Not everyone is convinced civility concerns prompted Barr to effectively disinvite Ocasio-Cortez. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), for example, told a local Kentucky news station he didn't "see any upside" to bringing Ocasio-Cortez to Kentucky, explaining that she is very smart and "I think a lot of Republicans are making a mistake picking on her."
Ocasio-Cortez may go to Kentucky anyway, with or without Barr's permission, communications director Corbin Trent told The Courier-Journal. "Luckily, we still have open borders with Kentucky. We don't need Congressman Barr to meet with coal miners and have a town hall, though we'd love his participation if we do." Trent, a Kentucky native, elaborated Wednesday night to MSNBC's Chris Hayes. They both appeared to think Barr lost his nerve.
Barr's district doesn't actually have any active coal mines, though he "has consistently been among the top recipients of the coal industry's campaign cash since first running for Congress in 2010," The Courier-Journal notes. On Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "Surprise! I know more about West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky & Appalachian communities than they think I do," thanks in part to staffers like Trent, adding: "I suspect underestimating women is the GOP's kryptonite."