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 McConnellFlorida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Schumer says nation will 'definitely' need new coronavirus relief bill 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 DurbinDemocrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children 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 SchumerSchumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House Democrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Schumer: Fired inspector general will be remembered as a 'hero' 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 WhitehouseDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Overnight Energy: Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights | Court sides with tribes in Dakota Access Pipeline case | Trump officials walk away from ethanol court fight Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights 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 SchatzThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Trump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act 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 GrahamUN biodiversity chief calls for international ban of 'wet markets' Graham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court 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 MarkeyWhy being connected really matters for students On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds Overnight Energy: Trump floats oil tariffs amid Russia-Saudi dispute | Warren knocks EPA over 'highly dangerous' enforcement rollback | 2019 sees big increase in methane levels in air MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezWhat the coronavirus reveals about the race grievance industry Democrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims 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 StabenowCoronavirus crisis scrambles 2020 political calculus Coronavirus stimulus talks hit setback as crisis deepens Democrats call for stimulus to boost Social Security benefits by 0 a month 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) ManchinPoliticians mourn the death of Bill Withers Pressure mounts for national parks closure amid coronavirus White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package 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 BrownDemocrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Lawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats press Mnuchin to defend T coronavirus stimulus IG 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 KaineDemocratic senator rips Navy head's 'completely inappropriate' speech on ousted carrier captain Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Students with disabilities could lose with COVID-19 stimulus package 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.”