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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 McConnellBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser 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-CortezHarry Styles hits back at criticism over wearing dress on Vogue cover 'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Obama says Democrats should make sure Ocasio-Cortez has a platform MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyACLU sues DHS for records on purchased cell phone data to track immigrants DHS watchdog to probe agency's tracking of Americans' phone data without a warrant Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' 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 ThuneTrump doubles down on Section 230 repeal after GOP pushback Congress faces late-year logjam Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense 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 BarrassoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee 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 MurphyOvernight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Senate to vote next week on blocking Trump's UAE arms sale Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire 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 SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted Republicans and the Trump administration from the floor earlier Tuesday. 

"It is long past time for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts 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.