Steyer: Green New Deal helped 'move the ball forward' on climate change

Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer told Hill.TV on Thursday that the Green New Deal being pushed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez calls for Stephen Miller to resign over leaked emails Ocasio-Cortez meets Sasha Velour following DC performance Sanders 'very concerned about what appears to be a coup' in Bolivia MORE (D-N.Y.) has helped “move the ball forward” on the issue of climate change.

“From my standpoint, I view the Green New Deal as a way that has been extremely successful about drawing attention to a gigantic problem and reframing it,” Steyer told Hill.TV’s Jamal Simmons.

“So when I think about the Green New Deal, what I see is people trying to move the ball forward in an important way, representing the overwhelming bulk of Americans,” he added.

The Senate blocked legislation to advance Green New Deal resolution on Tuesday. Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell protege emerges as Kentucky's next rising star Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ky.) brought the bill up for a vote in an effort to test the Democratic Party’s unity over the ambitious proposal aimed at dramatically reducing carton emissions and creating eco-friendly jobs.

Forty-three Democrats, including Markey, voted “present." Three Democrats, including Doug Jones (D-Ala,) and Angus KingAngus KingOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing MORE (I-Maine) voted along with Republicans against the resolution. 

Ocasio-Cortez maintained that she encouraged Senate Democrats to vote “present,” and criticized McConnell for trying to “rush” a vote on the measure without a hearing.

Advocates also downplayed the failed measure, saying it was never meant to pass in the first place and was touted as a statement of principles rather than an actual plan. Ocasio-Cortez is expected to put forth bills with elements from the Green New Deal early next year.

The Green New Deal nevertheless was regarded as contentious issue among Democrats. Even though several Democratic presidential candidates were cosponsors of the bill, other centrist Democrats voiced concerns over the proposal's cost and whether its goals were realistic.

But Steyer pushed back against questions over whether the proposal ultimately divided Democrats, saying that the "dea that we’d start with the perfect solution is unrealistic.” He also praised Markey and Oscario-Cortez for their efforts to address climate change on a national level. 

"Senator Markey and Alexandria Oscario-Cortez put forth a very broad solution to a very broad problem and it isn’t legislation, it’s kind of an outline for what you could do to address it and I give them enormous credit for what they did," he told Hill.TV.

—Tess Bonn