GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate

The vote on the “Green New Deal” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Overnight Health Care: McConnell offering bill to raise tobacco-buying age to 21 | NC gov vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill | CMS backs off controversial abortion proposal HR 1 brings successful local, state reforms to the federal level and deserves passage MORE (R-Ky.) announced on Tuesday is only the beginning.

Senate Republicans say McConnell sees Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Mueller report poses new test for Dems Environmentalists see victory with Green New Deal blitz MORE’s (D-N.Y.) signature issues as a way to make Democrats in the Senate uncomfortable.

In addition to the vote after next week’s recess on the star freshman’s climate change plan, they say the Senate could find itself considering Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a 70 percent marginal tax rate on the nation’s highest income earners, providing “Medicare for all” and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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“We’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. 

A Republican aide described the GOP leader as “fired up” about the plan, noting that Democrats are already squabbling over how to respond to the tactic. 

Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday accused McConnell of trying to “bully” her party and urged them to vote for the ambitious climate proposal.  

“He’s trying to bully the party, and he’s banking on people not being courageous,” she told The Washington Post. “I think people should call his bluff.”

She also said the proposal has broad support from the public.

“Ninety-two percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support a Green New Deal. Every major Democratic presidential candidate is fighting for a Green New Deal,” her office said in a statement.  

“McConnell thinks he can end all debate on the Green New Deal now and stop this freight train of momentum. Unfortunately for Mitch, all he’s going to do is show just how out of touch Republican politicians are with the American people,” the statement added.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyBen & Jerry's backs Green New Deal: 'We have to act now' Warren praises Ocasio-Cortez in Time 100 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems prep for Mueller report's release MORE, who has introduced companion legislation in the Senate, said it was “an attempt to sabotage the movement we are building” — a remark conservatives sought to turn against the Massachusetts Democrat.

“I’m confused. Sen. Markey introduced legislation, yet he is opposed to voting on it? He says allowing the Senate to vote on his own legislation would ‘sabotage’ it and ‘silence voices?’ ” tweeted Brian Riedl, a former Senate GOP aide and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

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McConnell’s move is a familiar one from his playbook.

In 2012, while serving as minority leader, he forced the Senate to vote on then-President Obama’s budget. It failed 99-0, something Republicans used to mock the Democratic president. 

Ocasio-Cortez, one of the Democrats’ brightest stars, would face similar ridicule if Senate Democrats vote unanimously against the Green New Deal. 

Already, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOn The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed Pro-life Christians are demanding pollution protections MORE (D-W.Va.), who represents a major coal state, says he will oppose the plan, which he called more of a “dream” than a serious policy proposal.

“Everybody has a right to dream and I got to work with the facts. I’ve got to make sure the country has the energy it needs in the cleanest fashion,” he said. 

Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyLicense to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America More than 30 Senate Dems ask Trump to reconsider Central American aid cuts Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE Jr. (D-Pa.), who represents a neighboring coal state, said he doesn’t know how he would vote. 

“It’s something that folks are taking a look at. I’m still looking,” he said, adding there has been some discussion about what to do about it within the Democratic caucus. 

“You have a set of principles, and people will decide whether to support it or not,” he added. 

One Senate Democrat who supports the Green New Deal expressed hope that the caucus makes it a “rallying cry” and tries to turn the tables on McConnell. 

“These are all proposals that have been around for a while,” said the lawmaker, who requested anonymity to discuss party strategy.

The lawmaker said Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution in itself isn’t that controversial and that the bigger political liability was an accompanying fact sheet with typos and some excessively colorful rhetoric. McConnell won’t be able to force a vote on the fact sheet, the source said. 

The 14-page Green New Deal resolution states it is the duty of the federal government to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, to invest in sustainable infrastructure and to secure clean air and water, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment for all Americans for generations to come.

It also calls for a 10-year national mobilization under which any infrastructure bill considered by Congress address climate change and 100 percent of the nation’s power demands will be met with clean, renewable, zero-emission energy choices.  

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Budowsky: 2020 Dems should debate on Fox Overnight Health Care: How 2020 Dems want to overhaul health care | Brooklyn parents sue over measles vaccination mandate | Measles outbreak nears record MORE (D-Ohio), a potential presidential candidate who represents coal mining communities in the eastern part of his state, declined to take a position on Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal when asked about it at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday. 

Brown told reporters at the breakfast that he backed “a green new deal” but declined to specifically endorse Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution.

“There are going to be all kind of specific pieces of legislation on all kinds of issues coming out of a very energized new group of members of Congress and that will continue for the next year and there will be all kinds of bills,” he said. 

“I’m not going to take a position on every bill that’s coming out. I support a green new deal. We need to aggressively support climate change. That’s my answer,” he said. 

McConnell’s strategy is to flush Democrats like Brown out of cover. 

GOP senators say they would like to also see votes on Ocasio-Cortez’s calls to implement a 70 percent marginal tax rate on income above $10 million — a policy a poll by The Hill found strong support for.

They’d also like to see a vote on abolishing ICE.

“I think it’s appropriate to put those on the floor and just see where people are on these issues. The American people have a right to know where members of the Senate or members of the House stand on what I consider very extreme proposals,” said Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report — Category 5 Mueller storm to hit today GOP senators double down on demand for Clinton email probe documents Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks MORE (R-Wis.). “We don’t vote enough. We should probably vote on some of these things.”

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisPro-life Christians are demanding pollution protections Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Abrams: Schumer has been 'relentless but thoughtful' about Senate bid MORE (R-N.C.) said he used McConnell’s tactic when he served as Speaker of the North Carolina state House.

“Every once in a while, you need to air their ideas when you know they’re so extreme you know they’re at odds with the American people,” he said.