Congress

Ky. Rep. says Ocasio-Cortez tweet is uncivil and puts coal mine tour in doubt

Rep. Andy Barr asked her to educate coal miners about the Green New Deal

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., addressed a letter to the office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about civility this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Kentucky congressman who invited Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tour a coal mine in his district appeared to rescind the invitation this week after she tweeted a critique of fellow Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

Ocasio-Cortez acted uncivilly when she criticized Crenshaw, Rep. Andy Barr said Monday.

“At the end of the day we all need to treat each other as colleagues with respect,” Barr said in an appearance outside a Golden Corral in his 6th District, WKYT reported

Ocasio-Cortez called out Crenshaw on Twitter last week for hypocrisy after he criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar as diminishing the 9/11 tragedy in remarks she gave to a Muslim civil rights organization. She pointed out Crenshaw had yet to cosponsor a bill to restore funding to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Crenshaw touched off a wave of criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar when he tweeted a snippet of her speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something.’ Unbelievable,” the Texas Republican said in his tweet last week.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something,” Omar said in the clip. It’s an incomplete version of her full comments about the Islamophobia faced by Muslim Americans in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Omar has faced a sharp increase in death threats in recent days, her office said Sunday.

Crenshaw also “quoted tweeted” a tweet that baselessly claimed Omar “does not consider [9/11] a terrorist attack on the USA by terrorists” and repeated the conspiracy theory that CAIR serves as little more than a front for foreign terrorists.

Crenshaw does not endorse the ideas in the tweet he quoted, an aide clarified to Roll Call. 

Ocasio-Cortez urged Crenshaw to redirect his energy to halting “right-wing extremists.” 

“Why don’t you go do something about that?” Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Barr countered that Crenshaw, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who served in Afghanistan, had already “done something” in a letter delivered to the New York congresswoman’s office.

Barr called on her to apologize for the tweet. 

“The comments made by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez demonstrate a lack of civility that is becoming far too common in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Barr wrote Friday.

But it’s unclear where Barr draws the bounds around a “culture of respect among Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

The Kentucky Republican draws a distinction between comments made by Ocasio-Cortez about Crenshaw, which he described as disrespectful, and Crenshaw’s tweet about Omar, which Barr’s letter portrays as perfectly fair.

“Congressman Barr loves to debate colleagues on the merits of various issues. He did, however, feel her comments that Rep. Crenshaw hadn’t 'done enough' to fight terrorism were simply out-of-line,” Barr spokesperson Jodi Whitaker said. 

President Donald Trump picked up the thread soon after Crenshaw’s tweet, sharing a video of Omar’s speech spliced with the World Trade Center collapsing. 

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Barr had invited Ocasio-Cortez to Kentucky in order to educate workers about the Green New Deal — a sprawling plan to transform the economy towards renewable energy and away from polluting fossil fuels like coal. The invitation followed a back-and-forth at a House Financial Services Committee hearing between Ocasio-Cortez and Republican members of the committee about the plan.

“I invite her to go underground with me and meet the men and women who do heroic work to power the American economy,” Barr said at the time.

Barr’s letter jeopardizes the bipartisan visit. Still, neither Ocasio-Cortez nor Barr have completely ruled out a trip.

“Luckily, Kentucky has open borders,” Corbin Trent, spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, told the Courier-Journal. “If we decided to go to Kentucky to visit with coal miners, which we certainly hope to, and talk about the opportunities that can be brought to the rural South ... and to coal-mine country and Appalachia, that can be brought by transitioning to renewable energy and the Green New Deal, we'll be excited to do so.”

Barr clarified Monday that the invitation remains open, pending an apology. 

“Progressives say they have an open mind,” Barr said to WKYT Monday. “I want her to show she has an open mind, come to Kentucky and learn about the ramifications about her proposals on real people struggling in real ways.”

Correction April 17 2:45 p.m. | An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Crenshaw as endorsing a tweet that criticized Omar.

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