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-CortezVA 'ain't broke' — but it can certainly be improved The Memo: GOP banks on Biden falling in primary Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for buying Iranian oil | At least four Americans killed in Sri Lanka attacks | Sanders pushes for Yemen veto override vote McConnell: 'Time to move on' from Trump impeachment talk 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 Stanley KingOvernight Energy: Trump moves to crack down on Iranian oil exports | Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast | Bloomberg donates .5M to Paris deal Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast Angus King: 'Mueller passed the obstruction question to the Congress and Barr intercepted the pass' 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