Sep 8, 2021
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) CNN Interview on Texas Abortion Bill Transcript
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN about Texas’ new election and abortion laws. She addressed Gov. Greg Abbott’s defense of the laws. Read the transcript of her speech remarks.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Anderson Cooper: (00:00)
Infrastructure and the Democrats’ budget resolution from someone who was with the President today. I’m joined now by New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Anderson Cooper: (00:07)
Congresswoman, thanks so much for being with us, appreciate it. I’m wondering just from what you saw today, what you heard from the President, were you happy or satisfied with what you heard from President Biden today in terms of his commitment to battling climate change and providing help to New York?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (00:22)
Well, I think in the immediate sense, we have been able to help facilitate in working with President Biden as well as FEMA in getting one of the fastest ever disaster assistance approvals from FEMA so that we could help people on the ground and start helping people recover as quickly as possible.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (00:40)
Now, when it comes to climate change, we have to do so much more, and the President’s agenda, yes, is important. We must pass the Build Back Better Act, but it is not done until it is on the President’s desk, and we also need to make sure that we’re continuing to fund these priorities. Right now, reconciliation is really embattled and we have to make sure that we actually bring this legislation home with the Build Back Better Act and making sure that climate is protected, because the fossil fuel industry and the interests of the fossil fuel industry are very much doing their best to try to shape both this legislation and making sure that they’re trying to pit it, and frankly, tank it compared to the Infrastructure Act as well.
Anderson Cooper: (01:29)
When one talks to experts on climate change and what, in order to respond effectively, what would need to be done, when you actually start to look at the full scope of all the aspects of life that would be impacted and need to be impacted, I mean, the production of how concrete is made, how steel is made, farming procedures, the electrical grid, it’s a huge societal shift. Do you think Americans are ready for that or been kind of prepared for that?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (02:06)
I think we are. I think we absolutely are because the question is not if our entire world and our entire society is going to shift because of climate change, it’s a matter of how it’s going to shift.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (02:20)
So basically, if we do nothing to address climate change, we are going to see the continued destruction of our supply chains. We are going to see our crops not be able to grow in the same way. We will see our infrastructure begin to crumble away. We will see the continuation and proliferation of other future pandemics as well.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (02:41)
And so that is how our life could change if we do nothing. It will change dramatically, but it could also change dramatically in a positive direction if we do something. We can create millions of union jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, shoring up our cities, our rural areas and our suburbs in order to prepare for the climate catastrophes that could come to our shores, but also draw down our carbon output in order to make sure that we prevent future calamities from happening as well.
Anderson Cooper: (03:16)
You’re obviously from a more progressive wing in the Democratic party than President Biden, who got elected in part by pledging to work across party lines. And as you clearly know, the bipartisan infrastructure bill seems stall because Democratic moderates in the Senate are balking at the price tag of a separated but related budget resolution that’s key to the House even taking up the infrastructure bill. Is this split among Democrats, what do you make of it? I mean, is it healthy in your view? There certainly seems to be mistrust.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (03:44)
Well, I certainly don’t think it’s healthy that ExxonMobil lobbyists are bragging about how many senators, Democrat and Republican, that they get to have on speed dial and enjoy exclusive access to shaping the contours of this quote, unquote bipartisan infrastructure bill. I don’t think that that’s healthy at all. I think the role of dark money and the fossil fuel lobby is extremely unhealthy for our democracy.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (04:12)
But the fact of the matter is, is that we’ve got the people on our side, and this is what we continue to say. They have money, these lobbyists and special interests have money, but we’ve got people. The Build Back Better Act has popular support, and even going above and beyond that, the Green New Deal has popular support even among Republicans and Independents.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (04:31)
And so what people I think are united behind is the acknowledgement that climate change is human caused, that the burning of fossil fuels and the continued construction of fossil fuel infrastructure like what we’re seeing with Line 3 in Minnesota must be confronted if we’re going to create a better future for ourselves. And we can do it while creating millions of union jobs.
Anderson Cooper: (04:55)
President Biden was just asked this evening about one of the key moderate, or often referred to as moderate Democrats opposing the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, Senator Joe Manchin. I just want to play for our viewers what he had to say.
President Joe Biden: (05:10)
Joe at the end has always been there. He’s always been with me. I think we can work something out and I look forward to speaking with him.
Anderson Cooper: (05:19)
Do you, I don’t know if trust is the right word. Do you trust President Biden to strike a deal with Senator Manchin or do you worry about President Biden striking a deal with Senator Manchin? I mean, is there a deal that all Democrats will accept, including Manchin?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (05:34)
Well, I think one of the interesting aspects of this situation is that it’s not just Senator Manchin that has leverage. Frankly, the entire party also needs to quote, unquote, worry about that more moderate agenda in the House, because just as we have an extremely slim Senate margin, we also have a very slim House margin. And I, as well as many, many members of the progressive caucus, simply will not vote for Senator Manchin’s infrastructure bill unless it is tied together with the Build Back Better Act so that we have an all of the above approach.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (06:11)
So we aren’t saying it’s either your bill or our bill, but that both of these bills must move forward together or neither will. And for the American people, that’s the best case scenario, where we’re able to address the needs of all communities, instead of just the needs of some communities that are represented by a very small sliver of that bipartisan group.
Anderson Cooper: (06:36)
I don’t want to put you on the spot, but you mentioned fossil fuel industries. It reminded me of something you had tweeted actually when Senator Manchin voiced his opposition in an op-ed last week. You responded via Twitter. On September 2nd, you wrote, “Manchin has weekly huddles w/ Exxon and is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called ‘bipartisan’ fossil fuel bills. It’s killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this ‘bipartisan’ corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation. Fossil fuel corps & dark money is destroying our democracy, country, & planet. All day our community has been pulling bodies out of homes from the flood. Entire families. And we’re supposed to entertain lobbyist talking points about why we should abandoned people & do nothing? No.” Are you suggesting that Senator Manchin is more interested in pleasing lobbyists than in saving lives from climate change?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (07:29)
I think that in the year 2021, if any member of Congress, whether it’s a member of the House or whether it’s a member of the Senate, continues to aid the fossil fuel lobbyists in advancing their agenda over the consensus of science, then they are disconnected from the reality on the ground. And that is simply a fact.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (07:53)
What we’ve been doing over the last four days, first responders in my community, have been pulling out bodies from apartments, basement apartments in New York City because of these flash floods. And the idea that we’re going to continue building fossil fuel infrastructure, that we’re going to continue, even in my backyard, continue to try to build things like peaker plants, natural gas, fracking, pipelines for fracked gas, it is unconscionable.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (08:22)
We know that the science is in and it says the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure will endanger people. It will make these storms worse. We have the capacity to transition to clean and renewable energy and create millions of good union jobs in order to transition to both our infrastructure and our energy system, as well as our power grid.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (08:47)
So I do believe that with all of that evidence that we have, with all of the opportunity that we have, economic opportunity that we have, if we continue to listen to the fossil fuel lobby and if we continue to allow them to have this infrastructure, have this influence in Washington, we are endangering our constituents, and we have to choose the science for once ahead of the lobbyist money.
Anderson Cooper: (09:16)
Do you support nuclear? Because there are a lot of people who will look at this issue and say the capabilities of transporting solar and wind power, I mean, our electrical grid needs to completely be altered and upgraded, but even then transporting it long distances and storing it, nuclear is the only answer, at least for in the short term.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (09:44)
Yeah. We’ve even addressed some of this issue, Senator Markey and I, in the drafting of the Green New Deal, which is that I don’t think that… There’s no position in terms of whether we are pro or anti-nuclear. It’s about the amount… Frankly, it’s a logistical question. Can we get an energy mix that is constructed in a ten-year timeline in accordance with the IPCC results?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (10:12)
And so it certainly does not rule out nuclear, but the issue is, is the construction, the timeline, and making sure that we can also focus on investments, for example, battery storage and energy storage in our power grid so that we aren’t completely reliant on continual generation, but that we can store energy in times when it’s not available.
Anderson Cooper: (10:34)
Just lastly, I want to ask you about something that Texas Governor Greg Abbott just said. He was asked about the Texas abortion bill and why force a rape or incest victim survivor to carry a pregnancy to term? This is how he responded. I want to play this for our viewers.
Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?
Governor Greg Abbott: (10:54)
It doesn’t require that at all because obviously it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion. And so, for one, it doesn’t provide that.
Governor Greg Abbott: (11:07)
That said, however, let’s make something very clear, rape is a crime and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.
Governor Greg Abbott: (11:26)
So goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person will be a victim of rape.
Anderson Cooper: (11:36)
I’m wondering what you thought when you heard that?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (11:40)
Well, I find Governor Abbott’s comments disgusting, and I think there’s twofold. One, I don’t know if he is familiar with a menstruating person’s body. In fact, I do know that he’s not familiar with a female or a menstruating person’s body, because if he did, he would know that you don’t have six weeks, is that quote, unquote six weeks, and I’m sorry we have to break down biology 101 on national television, but in case no one has informed him before in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period. And two weeks late on your period for any person, any person with a menstrual cycle can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks. That’s first things first.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (12:32)
The second area of this, when he talks about going after rapists and this language that he uses about getting rapists off the streets, the majority of people who are raped and who are sexually assaulted are assaulted by someone that they know. And these aren’t predators that are walking around the streets at night. They are people’s uncles. They are teachers. They are family friends. And when something like that happens, it takes a very long time, first of all, for any victim to come forward. And second of all, when a victim comes forward, they don’t necessarily want to bring their case into the carceral system. They don’t want to retraumatize themselves by going to court. They don’t necessarily all want to report a family friend to a police precinct, let alone in the immediate aftermath of the trauma of a sexual assault.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (13:29)
And so while some victims do use that recourse and that is something that is completely available, and if that is part of their process, that’s great, but this idea that we’re going to quote, unquote end rape when the same type of frankly rape culture and the same type of misogynistic culture that informed this abortion law to begin with is also… Those beliefs are held by the Governor himself and the Texas State Legislature, frankly, there are many people in power, as we know from the MeToo movement, that commits sexual assault, that help their friends cover up these crimes. And some of them even serve in the same state legislatures that are voting on just these anti-choice bills. It’s awful. And he speaks from such a place of deep ignorance. And it’s not just ignorance. It’s ignorance that is hurting people across this country.
Anderson Cooper: (14:30)
You said rape culture and misogynistic culture are behind this Texas bill to begin with. Could you just explain that, how you feel about that to people?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (14:44)
Sure. So when we talk about the law that was passed in Texas, we know that anti-choice bills are not about being pro-life, because if they were about being pro-life, then the Republican party would support, frankly, an agenda that helps guaranteed healthcare, that helps ensure that people who do give birth that don’t have the resources to care for a child can have that care for a child.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (15:11)
So we know that none of this is about life. None of this is about supporting life. What this is about is controlling women’s bodies and controlling people who are not cisgender men. This is about making sure that someone like me as a woman or any menstruating person in this country cannot make decisions over their own body.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (15:35)
And people like Governor Abbott and Mitch McConnell wants to have more control over a woman’s body than that woman or that person has over themselves. And that shares with rape culture is that sexual assault is about the abuse of power and sexual assault is about asserting control over another person. And the ease with which these men seek to do that to other people is atrocious. It is morally reprehensible, and they cannot even begin to understand the agonizing decisions that people have to make, including in cases of miscarriage, rape and incest.
Anderson Cooper: (16:24)
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (16:27)
Thank you so very much.