WASHINGTON – The Green New Deal, liberal Democrats’ sweeping proposal to address climate change, could get its first vote on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
The Senate is scheduled to take up a procedural motion on the ambitious plan, which also calls for a broad social remake of the American economy, that could lead to a final vote as early as next week.
The irony? It’s Republican opponents, led by GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who are eager to bring the non-binding resolution to a vote because they believe the plan they continually lambaste will turn off voters heading to the polls next year.
McConnell said he wants to get Senate Democrats – several of whom are running for president in 2020 – “on record” about the Green New Deal.
Spurred by government reports warning of drastic consequences, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., unveiled the proposal in February.
It calls not only for combating climate change by eliminating carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels and shifting the economy to one powered by renewable fuels, but also prescribes a broad social justice platform advocating for free housing, medical coverage and higher education for all Americans.
GOP senators ridicule the plan because The Green New Deal’s original talking points called for even more drastic goals: a build-out of high-speed rail that would make carbon-emitting airplane travel obsolete; an end to dependence of nuclear power as well as fossil fuels; and the creation of “a sustainable, pollution and greenhouse gas free, food system” that would no longer rely on “farting cows.”
“Basically, the Green New Deal is an assault on cows, cars and combustion,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said on the Senate floor Monday. “With nuclear power available, it’s strategy for fighting climate change with windmills makes as much sense as going to war in sail boats.”
But Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the issue is no laughing matter.
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“This is not a time for derision. This is not a time for division,” Carper said on the Senate floor Monday. “On an issue as serious as this, we ought to be serious about addressing it.”
Although Democrats are united in wanting to aggressively address climate change, party lawmakers have been divided over whether the Green New Deal is the best approach. A number of moderate Democrats have distanced themselves from the parts of the measure that go beyond ways of confronting global warming.
And even though Democrats control the House, there are no immediate plans to bring the proposal to the floor for a vote.