McConnell plans vote on Green New Deal before August recess

McConnell plans vote on Green New Deal before August recess
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill 'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he will force a vote on the progressive Green New Deal sometime before the August recess, arguing he thinks Democrats are trying to dodge the fight. 

McConnell said he had read with "some amusement" that some Democrats were discussing voting "present" on the anti-climate change plan, a move that would allow them to avoid taking a stance on the liberal resolution. 

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"The only thing I would ask is if this is such a popular thing to do and so necessary, why would one to dodge the vote. This is an opportunity to go on record. …. It's a debate we'll have in all likelihood sometime before the August break," McConnell said. 

The Senate is scheduled to go on recess Aug. 5.

McConnell first announced earlier this month that he would force a vote on the resolution, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera Louisiana governor wins reelection White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract House, Senate announce agreement on anti-robocall bill Democratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream MORE (D-Mass.). Republicans have seized on the Green New Deal as a wedge issue as they hunt for fodder for the 2020 election. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Hillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract House, Senate announce agreement on anti-robocall bill MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, pointed to the it as one example of how Democrats have shifted to the left. 

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote MORE (Wyo.), a member of GOP leadership, argued that the proposal "drives a stake into the heart" of the U.S. economy and would result in a "gift" to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

"The solution to climate change is not government regulation, it's innovation, and that's the way we ought to be heading," Barrasso added. 

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 it would force Democratic 2020 hopefuls to go on the record, which Republicans believe could pay dividends during the election. 

Though it's been seized on by Republicans, it has split Democrats, with several moderates and even members of Senate Democratic leadership cool to saying they would support the Green New Deal. 

Some have floated voting "present," which wouldn't put them on the record as voting for or against the idea. Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyLawmakers spar over upcoming Sondland testimony Johnson: Whistleblower 'exposed things that didn't need to be exposed' Sunday shows — Spotlight shifts to Sondland ahead of impeachment inquiry testimony MORE (D-Conn.) told E&E News that voting "present" could be used to try to discourage McConnell from future "political theater."

Democrats have tried to turn the tables by questioning what Republicans have done to combat climate change since taking over control of the Senate in 2015. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted Republicans and the Trump administration from the floor earlier Tuesday. 

"It is long past time for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE and Republican leaders to admit that climate change is real, human activity contributes to it, and Congress must take action to counter it. So far, Leader McConnell and Republicans: when we ask them do you believe climate change is real? Silence. Do you believe humans cause it? Silence," Schumer said.