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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 McConnellBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Washington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden 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-Cortez28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas ceasefire Israel launches heavy airstrikes on Gaza as pressure increases on US to help broker ceasefire Capitol riot fuels debate over domestic terror laws MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyRon Johnson calls cyber attacks an 'existential' threat following Colonial Pipeline shutdown Senators ask airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits Civilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide 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 ThuneLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats GOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney 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 BarrassoThe 'frills' of Biden's infrastructure plan are real needs Sunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise 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 MurphySweeping election reform bill faces Senate buzz saw Kabul attack spurs fears over fate of Afghan women as US exits Sen. Murphy calls for Yemen's Houthis to accept ceasefire following trip to Middle East 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 SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted Republicans and the Trump administration from the floor earlier Tuesday. 

"It is long past time for President TrumpDonald TrumpFranklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Man suspected in wife's disappearance accused of casting her ballot for Trump Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' 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.