"Do we know how long puppies are allowed to stay with their mothers after a dog has given birth?" she asked during a House Oversight Committee hearing on paid leave.
"Uh, eight weeks. So, the market has decided that women and people who give birth deserve less time with their children than a dog," she added.
Ocasio-Cortez seemed to be referring to the practice of breeders keeping puppies until they reach 8 weeks of age, at which point they're sold and likely never see their parents again.
Paid family leave generally refers to a limited period of time in which human parents can leave work to take care of a new child. The parent is still able to live with the child after that paid period ends.
She made those comments in an apparent attempt to dispute Heritage Foundation scholar Rachel Greszler, who had advocated businesses and workers negotiating their own terms for wages and paid leave. Greszler, in a statement provided to Fox News, criticized Ocasio-Cortez's comments.
“As a woman who has given birth to six children, I find being compared to a breeding dog with puppies incredibly offensive. What AOC failed to point out is the reason many states require puppies to spend at least eight weeks with their mothers is in the context of them being sold to people after that period," she said.
Ocasio-Cortez's use of the word "allowed" indicated some kind of legal prohibition -- meaning that by definition, the government interfered rather than allowing the free market to act. A long list of states has instituted regulations surrounding that point in development.
Ocasio-Cortez's office did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. The congresswoman stood by her argument on Twitter.
After serving up several questions to Greszler, Ocasio-Cortez made her dog breeder analogy and pushed for more government intervention in paid leave policies.
"And I think that that, at its core, has shown that the market has failed to treat people with dignity and with basic respect -- and so when that happens, I think it's our job as the public to redefine the rules of society," she added.