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 McConnellConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Trump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' 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 Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers Senate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court 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 Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar 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 WhitehouseDems introduce bill requiring disclosure of guest logs from White House, Trump properties Sanders announces first staff hires in Iowa, New Hampshire McConnell works to freeze support for Dem campaign finance effort 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 SchatzLawmakers urge tech to root out extremism after New Zealand Advocate says Trump administration's new proposal would do 'absolutely nothing' to alleviate student debt Hillicon Valley: Huawei official asks US to ease restrictions | Facebook loses top execs | Defense officials hit Google over China | Pro-Trump 'safe space' app pulled over security flaw | Senators offer bill on facial recognition technology 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 GrahamDem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report Graham expects 'thorough' briefing on Mueller report 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 MarkeyBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Why is my party prioritizing an extreme environmental agenda? MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars 'Washington Monthly' editor says diversity on Capitol Hill starts with interns Why is my party prioritizing an extreme environmental agenda? 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 StabenowChris Evans talks NATO, Marvel secrets on Capitol Hill Overnight Health Care: Senators grill drug execs over high prices | Progressive Dems unveil Medicare for all bill | House Dems to subpoena Trump officials over family separations Senators grill drug execs over high prices 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) ManchinManchin says he won't support LGBTQ protection bill as written Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Murkowski, Manchin call for 'responsible solutions' to climate change 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 BrownWarren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight Trump faces political risks in fight over GM plant 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 KaineDem senator wants Trump to extend immigration protections to Venezuelans Pentagon sends Congress list of projects that could lose funds to Trump's emergency declaration The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege 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.”