Senate

McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is setting up a fight over the Green New Deal later this month. 

McConnell, wrapping up the Senate's work for the week, scheduled a procedural vote on the progressive resolution for after the chamber returns from a one-week recess. 

Senators are leaving Thursday and will return to Washington on March 25. The Senate will vote on whether or not to take up the Green New Deal resolution after they wrap up consideration of a circuit court nominee. 

McConnell initially said he would force a vote on the Green New Deal before the August recess, before saying it would come up before the Senate left town for two weeks in April. 

GOP senators said earlier this week that they expected it to get a vote during the last week in March.

The Green New Deal will need 60 votes to get over the procedural hurdle, something it stands little chance of doing in a GOP-controlled Senate where most Democrats are expected to vote present and Republicans won't support it. 

The Green New Deal, spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States while creating millions of "good, high-wage jobs." But Republicans have seized on it as they hunt for attack fodder for the 2020 presidential election; several Senate Democrats are vying for their party's nomination.

McConnell blasted the progressive proposal from the Senate floor Wednesday, calling it an example of "garden-variety 20th-century socialism."

"Our Democratic colleagues have taken all the debunked philosophies of the last hundred years, rolled them into one giant package, and thrown a little green paint on them to make them look new. But there's nothing remotely new about a proposal to centralize control over the economy and raise taxes on the American people to pay for it," he said. 

Democrats have blasted McConnell, arguing that he's trying to "troll" them and dodge a broader debate on climate change policy. Several have suggested they will vote present on the Green New Deal resolution to try to dodge the GOP leader's political trap.   

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged that his caucus would be united on the vote when it comes to the Senate floor. 

"We are totally unified. Everyone knows that this bill is a sham. And we are going to ask our Republican colleagues to answer three simple questions; thus far they have refused to answer them: One, is climate change real? Two, is it caused by human activity and three, should Congress do something about it?" Schumer said. 

He added that Democrats have Republicans on "defense" because they won't answer his questions, saying, "That's where we have them and that's where we're going to keep them." 

Democrats have rolled out a litany of measures meant to let them go on the offensive on climate change. Among their targets is the defunding of a Trump administration panel meant to counter the scientific community on climate change.

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