Democrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal

Democrats are bristling over a GOP effort to pit senators against the party's newly resurgent progressive base.

Republicans, fresh off a border funding fight they are widely viewed as having lost, are eager to pivot to offense as they hunt for 2020 fodder, when several Senate Democrats will be running for president.

Republicans say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump faces crucial decisions on economy, guns Are Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' MORE (R-Ky.) is mulling a series of votes to try to jam Democratic senators, whom he has repeatedly tried to paint as pushed off center by the “radical left.” His first step this week was fast-tracking the "Green New Deal" resolution by putting it on the Senate calendar.

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But top Democrats are brushing off the potential political fallout of McConnell’s tactics, comparing them to a “political stunt.”

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Republicans were using a routine maneuver because it “amuses some small-minded senators.”

“How many times have Republicans tried to call up a Democrat’s budget resolution and Democrats tried to call up the Republican budget resolution … to embarrass the president’s party?” Durbin asked. “This is not a new tactic, this is old school. He’s going to do it, we do it. Everybody does it.”

Instead, Democrats are trying to turn the tables and the spotlight on the environmental record of Republicans, arguing they’ve done nothing to combat climate change since taking control of the chamber in 2015.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE (D-N.Y.), in a lengthy floor speech, called McConnell’s move a “cheap, cynical political ploy” and a “pointless partisan game.” He added that the GOP leader should “bring it on.”

“You think it might embarrass Democrats to vote on a nonbinding resolution that some of us may support but not others?” he asked. “Trust me, we’ll be fine, because the American people know that our entire party believes that climate change is happening and it’s caused by humans.”

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Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax MORE (D-R.I.), who gives a weekly “Time to Wake Up” speech, quickly aligned himself with Schumer saying he was a “proud member of the ‘bring it on’ caucus.” 

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel Schatz'Medicare for All' complicates Democrats' pitch to retake Senate Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid Booker, Durbin and Leahy introduce bill to ban death penalty MORE (D-Hawaii) accused Republicans of “misreading the moment” and said McConnell was “trolling” Democrats.

“This is supposed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body. It is not Twitter,” Schatz said. “This is supposed to be where we solve the greatest problems facing the United States. This not where we troll each other.”

After a year of extreme weather, including fires and hurricanes, and reports that 2018 was one of the warmest years on record, Democrats say they have public opinion on their side.

Two polls released in January found that a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening.

More than 70 percent of Americans held that view, according to a University of Chicago and Associated Press poll. Meanwhile, 73 percent told researchers at Yale University and George Mason University that global warming is happening, marking a 10 point shift from March 2015.

The Green New Deal, which strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States while creating millions of “good, high-wage jobs,” has zero chance of passing in the Senate, where it needs 60 votes to advance.

But Republicans argue a vote on the measure will force Democrats to go “on the record” ahead of 2020, and they are eager to exploit the party’s complicated dynamics, which include red-state Democrats and several senators running for president.

In addition to the Green New Deal, Republicans are mulling votes on proposals touted by progressives, including “Medicare for all.” 

McConnell has also teed up a vote for later this month on a bill that would require medical care be given to infants that survive abortions after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) sparked a political firestorm over his comments about an abortion bill proposed in the state legislature.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid Graham warns Trump on Taliban deal in Afghanistan: Learn from 'Obama's mistakes' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid MORE (R-S.C.), one of several GOP senators to mount failed presidential bids in 2016, predicted that the Democratic presidential horse race would inevitably bleed over into the day-to-day operations of the Senate.

“I think it made it hard for the conference to kind of gel,” he said.

And the "bring it on" mantra from leadership and liberal senators comes as moderates are wary of embracing the proposal, which was put forth by Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyJoseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts Overnight Energy: Trump sparks new fight over endangered species protections | States sue over repeal of Obama power plant rules | Interior changes rules for ethics watchdogs To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Pro-Trump Republican immigrant to challenge Dem lawmaker who flipped Michigan seat 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (D-N.Y.).

Only 12 senators have endorsed the resolution in the Senate. Schumer, during his floor speech, called on McConnell to allow Democrats to offer amendments once the resolution comes up for a vote.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowUSDA eases relocation timeline as researchers flee agency USDA office move may have broken law, watchdog says Senate Democrats see Warren, Sanders proposals as unfeasible MORE (D-Mich.), a member of Democratic leadership, said at an Axios event that while she understands the “passion" on the issue, “a little more time, a little more communication, a little more input from a wider variety of folks on language would have made a difference.”

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSunday shows - Recession fears dominate Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Trump vows to 'always uphold the Second Amendment' amid ongoing talks on gun laws MORE (D-W.Va.), who represents a state that swung heavily toward Trump in 2016, compared the progressive proposal to a “dream" instead of a concrete deal.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Dayton Democrat launches challenge to longtime GOP rep Dayton mayor: Trump visit after shooting was 'difficult on the community' MORE (D-Ohio), a purple-state senator who is mulling his own White House bid, backed a “green new deal” during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast but didn’t specifically endorse Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution, predicting that there would be “all kind of specific pieces of legislation on all kinds of issues coming out.”

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup MORE (D-Va.) added that there shouldn’t be a “litmus test,” whether it’s on energy policy or other top issues like health care.

“I think when it was introduced, it seemed to be obvious that that would be happen,” he said about McConnell’s decision to force a vote. “But you know I don’t mind voting on stuff.”