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Barr to AOC: Apologize before you come to Kentucky

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is welcome to come to Kentucky and tour a coal mine, but first she needs to apologize, says Rep. Andy Barr.

Barr, a Kentucky Republican, wants Ocasio-Cortez to offer a mea culpa to “our colleague and patriot to our country” Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, before she accepts Barr’s invitation to tour a Kentucky coal mine.

In a letter Friday to the New York Democrat, Barr said her recent comments about Crenshaw “demonstrate a lack of civility that is becoming far too common in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

An apology won’t be forthcoming, a spokesman for the congresswoman said Friday.

“We’re very proud and thankful for (Crenshaw’s) service, but what we are talking about is his fanning the flames of hate,” said Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez.

He added, “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.”

Ocasio-Cortez is coming under fire from Republicans for asking via Twitter why Crenshaw, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, doesn’t “do something” about domestic terrorists.

Her tweet came as she defended her fellow freshman Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, whom Republican critics have accused of belittling the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Omar in a 20-minute speech last month said that “some people did something” as she talked about 9/11 and anti-Muslim sentiment that she said spurred the creation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“Anyone who watches the full video knows without a doubt she was not being dismissive of the 911 attacks and to try to use that to score political points I find a little disgusting,” Trent said.

Crenshaw tweeted that Omar’s remarks were “unbelievable” and that she was the “first Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something.’ “

Ocasio-Cortez accused Crenshaw of twisting Omar’s words.

“You refuse to co-sponsor the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund, yet have the audacity to drum resentment towards Ilhan w/completely out-of-context quotes,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote to Crenshaw on Twitter. “In 2018, right-wing extremists were behind almost ALL US domestic terrorist killings. Why don’t you go do something about that?”

Ocasio-Cortez’s office pointed McClatchy to a New York Daily News interview with a retired New York firefighter who survived 9/11 and told the newspaper that Crenshaw had snubbed him as he lobbied for renewing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

The fund for 9/11 victims is running out of money and announced in February that it would need to cut future payments by 50 to 70 percent. Lawmakers have introduced a new version of the legislation, but the Daily News reported few conservative Republicans have signed on.

Crenshaw’s office did not immediately respond late Friday.

Barr noted in his letter to Ocasio-Cortez that Crenshaw served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Barr said that “not only has Congressman Crenshaw ‘done something’ to combat terrorism, he was wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving — causing him to lose his right eye.”

Barr last month invited Ocasio-Cortez to “go underground” into a Kentucky coal mine so that he can show the author of the sweeping Green New Deal the “real life implications” of the climate change legislation that Republicans say would put coal miners out of business.

But Barr in the Friday letter said Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks about Crenshaw go too far.

“I have always though regardless of political party, beliefs or ideology, that we need to treat all of our colleagues with respect and dignity,” Barr said, adding that an apology “would be a step toward restoring a culture of respect among members of the U.S. House of Representatives — a culture I hold in high esteem.”

The 29-year-old congresswoman stunned the political world when she defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary last year, becoming the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.

She has become the subject of endless Republican fascination — and vitriol — with a report issued Friday by the left-leaning Media Matters for America that found over the past six weeks, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network talked about the congresswoman every single day, mentioning her at least 3,181 times.

Barr appeared on the Fox Business Network on April 4, telling the host he’d show Ocasio-Cortez “the real world implications” of the Green New Deal he called “the centerpiece of the Democratic Party’s march towards socialism and their wholesale rejection of individual freedom and free enterprise in America.”

Lesley Clark works out of the McClatchy Washington bureau, covering all things Kentucky for McClatchy’s Lexington Herald-Leader. A former reporter for McClatchy’s Miami Herald, she also spent several years covering the White House.