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 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.) 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-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.) and 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.). 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 ThuneCongress should take action to stop unfair taxation of the digital economy The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law 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 BarrassoTrump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' This week: Trump set for Senate setback on emergency declaration We should end tax giveaways to electric vehicle owners 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 MurphySanders: 'We must follow New Zealand's lead' and ban assault weapons The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change Dems shift strategy for securing gun violence research funds 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 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.) blasted Republicans and the Trump administration from the floor earlier Tuesday. 

"It is long past time for President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller 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.