House Republican moves to force vote on Green New Deal

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GOP Rep. Jody Hice (Ga.) on Wednesday introduced a discharge petition aimed at circumventing Democratic leadership and forcing a vote on the progressive-backed Green New Deal.

Hice, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he is hoping to gain at least 20 Democratic signatures to reach the 218 needed to utilize the procedural tool.

{mosads}”I’m not gonna put any Democrats on the spot right now, I’ve had some positive conversations but we’ll see,” Hice told The Hill. “There are 92 Democrats that have co-sponsored the Green New Deal so hopefully some of them will come on board and call for a vote.”

The move is the latest ploy by the GOP to force Democrats to go on the record on a controversial issue — a tactic that could place swing district members on the other side of the aisle in a difficult position.

Nearly 100 Democrats in the lower chamber have signed on as co-sponsors to the Green New Deal, a resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) that aims to build a green energy-focused economy by transitioning the U.S. electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy.

The climate plan came into the spotlight with the meteoric rise of Ocasio-Cortez as a growing progressive force. Nearly every 2020 Democratic White House hopeful has embraced the tenets of the resolution in some way.

The plan has also divided Democrats, however, with some taking issue with its broadness as well as concerns over costs to implement.

Ocasio-Cortez and other backers of the House resolution have not called for a floor vote and have instead said it’s messaging focused and was never meant to be passed.

She has called Republican plans a political maneuver.

“This is very similar, this is a mirroring tactic to what [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] was doing in the Senate. To not hold a single hearing just shows that they aren’t taking this problem seriously,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill.

McConnell forced a vote on the resolution in March, a political move meant to highlight a divide among Democrats over the issue.

Despite spearheading the efforts on the proposal, Ocasio-Cortez encouraged Democrats in the upper chamber to vote present as a show of togetherness. Progressives blasted McConnell for engaging in political theater and argued the proposal warranted a hearing. It ultimately failed to advance in the Senate.

Now Republicans are attempting to force a similar tactic in the House.

“They want to divide the caucus and they are going to try to call folks out who are co-sponsoring it and voting against the discharge but this is just a maneuver,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s not substantive.”

Republicans have repeatedly hammered Democrats over the resolution while attempting to paint the party as shifting toward socialism.

“The more that you see Pelosi’s new majority promoting far-left socialist policies, it’s sparking a strong debate on both sides. But I think most people in this country are alarmed that there is such a move toward socialism by this new Congress,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill on Monday, ahead of its introduction. “Their policies are out of step with the American people. And frankly, everybody ought to take a position.”

Republicans will likely face an uphill battle in gaining the support across the aisle to successfully employ the parliamentary procedure.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said he would support Democrats in the House employing similar efforts as their Senate counterparts and voting present if Republicans successfully forced a Green New Deal vote.

“I think the best strategy is to call it for what it is, a ‘got you’ deal, and ignore it,” said Grijalva. 

“We’re not going to fall for the trap. But we’re here and we know why you’re doing it but we’re here and we’ll vote present and then each member can explain why.”

The introduction of the discharge petition comes the same week as the House is slated to vote on a bill aimed at ensuring the United States remains committed to the Paris climate agreement.

President Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris accord in June 2017, an act that separates the U.S. from all of its allies and most of the world. 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Climate change Donald Trump Environment Green New Deal Jody Hice Paris agreement Steve Scalise
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