November 12, 2018 / 10:53 PM / in 5 months

Party at Mark's - U.S. congressman offers to put up D.C. newcomers

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) speaks at breakout session "Making Congress Listen: How to Transform Trump Anger and Movement Energy into Victories on Capitol Hill" at the Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A leader of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing in Congress on Monday extended an invitation meant to reassure new representatives worried about affording Washington rent: “Crash at my place.”

Representative Mark Pocan, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, spoke at a news conference with about 10 newly elected colleagues including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was caught up in a flurry of media coverage over the weekend after telling the New York Times she would not be able to take on a lease until her government salary kicked in.

Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29 has become the youngest woman elected to the House of Representatives, dismissed the worries, telling the news conference, “I don’t need to move to DC until work starts anyway, and I am really taking this time to relish the last couple of months that I have full time with my communities in the Bronx and Queens.”A former bartender who stunned her party by taking down a 10-term incumbent in a June nominating contest, Ocasio-Cortez was one of the most visible symbols of a grassroots insurgency that has sprung up across the country during the 2018 campaign.

Pocan, of Wisconsin, tried to assuage concerns about Ocasio-Cortez and any of the other 20 new Democratic members of Congress endorsed by his caucus. They were elected as part of a wave that saw Democrats take a majority in the House for the first time since 2010, while Republicans held the Senate.

“She and everyone is welcome to crash at my place,” Pocan said.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman

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