Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the popular freshman Democrat from New York who is trying to use her star power to move the Democratic Party to the left, will headline a rally next week in Washington in favor of the Green New Deal, as she seeks to shore up support for the expansive climate legislation that has been met with skepticism by members of both parties.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, has long aligned herself with Sunrise Movement, the collection of young, hard-charging activists who are pressuring Democrats nationwide to take bolder actions to address climate change after years of what they see as an inadequate response.
The May 13 rally at Howard University, the final stop on the group’s nationwide “Green New Deal Tour,” will make the case for the bill in the backyard of Capitol Hill, where party establishment figures such as Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, have been more wary of their party’s progressive flank than many in their rank-and-file.
“From fire-scarred California to areas of the plains devastated by flooding, people are hungry for a big vision to transform our economy in line with science and justice demands,” said Varshini Prakash, a co-founder of Sunrise Movement. “I’m thrilled to be joining Representative Ocasio-Cortez to close out the tour and lay out what’s next in the Green New Deal campaign.”
Shortly after Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s election in November, she joined Sunrise Movement protesters in Ms. Pelosi’s office, helping to raise the organization’s national profile.
During other stops on the group’s tour, a video has played in which Ms. Ocasio-Cortez describes her vision of the coming decade, which includes a transition to a green economy and other items on the liberal wish list, like “Medicare for all,” a federal jobs guarantee and publicly funded elections.
The Green New Deal aims to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, but it also seeks to address problems such as economic inequality and racial injustice by prioritizing historically disenfranchised communities. Critics say the legislation is too ambitious and has dim political prospects in a Congress where Republicans control the Senate.
“We’ve been clear since our campaign started — the Democratic Party needs to lay out a clear and bold vision for America,” said Corbin Trent, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesman. “And that’s not only the best path for our planet — but it’s the best path strategically and electorally to take the Senate and White House.”
The rally comes at a critical time for Sunrise Movement and its allied organizations, which are trying to use the current lack of a clear leader in the national Democratic Party as an opportunity to push for progressive causes.
The Green New Deal had been a major talking point in the Democratic presidential primary, but the conversation has lurched back toward the center in recent weeks, particularly with the entry of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who remains the race’s pacesetter in terms of early fund-raising and polling.
While Mr. Biden has not taken an official stand on the Green New Deal, his surrogates have repeatedly dismissed the idea, and said the better electoral strategy for Democrats would be a clear focus on reversing the presidency of Mr. Trump, not embracing new and controversial policies.
But recently in South Carolina, in a sign of the grass-roots pressure Mr. Biden may face, he was asked at a rally if he would pledge not to accept donations from the fossil fuel industry. Mr. Biden said that he would, and that he had long supported the idea of publicly funded elections.
Former Representative Beto O’Rourke, who is also running for president, recently took the same pledge Mr. Biden said he supported, after repeated pressure from activists including members of Sunrise Movement. Mr. O’Rourke had previously received donations from oil and gas executives.
“We don’t want there to be any real or perceived conflicts of interests,” Mr. O’Rourke said in his video announcing he had signed the pledge. He also singled out youth activists for helping push him on the issue. “Thank you for your advocacy and leadership.”