Senate blocks Green New Deal

The Senate on Tuesday blocked the Green New Deal, a progressive climate change resolution that Republicans view as prime fodder heading into the 2020 presidential election.

The Senate voted 0-57 on taking up the resolution, with 43 Democrats voting present. The measure was widely expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the procedural hurdle.

Most Democrats were expected to vote present, a move that allowed them to avoid taking a formal position. Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSenators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall MORE (I-Maine) voted with Republicans against the measure.

Republicans have seized on the measure as an example of Democrats shifting to the left ahead of next year's presidential election. Every Democratic senator running for the party’s nomination in 2020 has co-sponsored the Senate Green New Deal resolution.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Fox's Wallace says 'well-connected' Republican told him there's a 20 percent chance GOP will vote for impeachment White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours MORE (R-Ky.) lashed out at the proposal ahead of the vote on Tuesday, calling it an item on the “far-left wish list that many of our Democratic colleagues have rushed to embrace.”

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“The American people will see, they will see which of their senators can do the common sense thing and vote no on this destructive socialist daydream. And they will see which senators are so fully committed to radical left-wing ideology that they can’t even vote no on self-inflicted economic ruin,” he said.

The resolution, introduced last month by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyFlight attendant union endorses Markey in Senate primary battle Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick MORE (D-Mass.), strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States while creating millions of “good, high-wage jobs.” It’s faced pushback from conservatives as well as some Democrats for being too broad and including wish list items not directly related to climate change, like expanding family farming and transitioning away from air travel.

Leading into Tuesday, Democrats accused McConnell of trying to set up a “gotcha” vote since no hearings were held on the fast-tracked legislation, which was widely expected to fail to get the 60 votes needed to ultimately pass the Senate.

Speaking at a rally Tuesday morning, Markey blasted Republicans for putting on a "sham vote."

“They are calling a vote without hearings, without expert testimony, without any true discussion of the costs of climate inaction and the massive potential for clean energy job creation in our country. And that is because Sen. McConnell wants to sabotage the call for climate action,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTurkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria Schumer calls for FDA to probe reports of contaminated baby food How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse MORE (D-N.Y.) added that Republicans were making “a mockery of the legislative process” by bringing the Green New Deal resolution up for a vote just to have the Senate vote it down.

“Republicans want to force this political stunt to distract from the fact that they neither have a plan nor a sense of urgency to deal with the threat of climate change. ... It’s a political act. It’s a political stunt,” he said.

The resolution has divided the Senate Democratic caucus, which ranges from red-state centrists to progressives such as Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Warren, Yang fight over automation divides experts Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' Warren says she will unveil plan to finance 'Medicare for All' Ocasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make MORE (I-Vt.), who are both running for president.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats dig in ahead of Supreme Court ruling on 'Dreamers' Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' Trump judicial nominee delayed amid GOP pushback MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said the Green New Deal was “aspirational” and he wanted something that was “legislational.”

“I think there are parts of that Green New Deal that are excellent and some that I disagree with. At this point in time I’m going to be voting present … because I believe we should be legislational. I believe we should be bipartisan,” he said.

A dozen Democratic senators co-sponsored Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, including six 2020 White House hopefuls. Those senators followed suit with Markey in voting present on the bill Tuesday.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyPelosi, Schumer hit 'flailing' Trump over 'sham ceasefire' deal Romney slams ceasefire deal, calls Trump's Syria move 'a bloodstain' in US history Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics MORE (D-Conn.), a co-sponsor, said that he and “almost every, if not every” Democrat would be voting present on the resolution.

Progressive groups signaled ahead of the vote that they were giving senators a pass on the Green New Deal vote and were supportive of senators who planned to vote present.

Ocasio-Cortez also lashed out over the weekend at Republicans, saying they were “wasting votes” and should “stop wasting the American peoples’ time [and] learn to govern.”

Pushing back on Senate Republicans, Democrats attempted to turn the tables by trying to debate their conservative counterparts on their climate views. Many lawmakers goaded GOP members to state what climate legislation they instead supported, if not the Green New Deal.

"[McConnell] and his colleagues want to make a mockery of the national debate that we have started with the Green New Deal, and that’s because they have no plans to fight climate change,” said Markey. “Republicans have no intention of passing legislation to combat climate change.”

All 47 members of the Senate Democratic Conference introduced a short alternative resolution last month stating that human activity is the “dominant cause” of climate change and that Congress should take “immediate” action. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (Maine) — who is up for reelection next year in a state won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton trolls Trump with mock letter from JFK to Khrushchev Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision MORE in 2016 — is the only Republican senator who supported it.

McConnell said Tuesday that he believes that climate change is real and caused by humans, but characterized the Green New Deal resolution as "nonsense." 

"The way to do this consistent with American values and American capitalism is through technology and innovation … not to shut down your economy, throw people out of work," McConnell told reporters. "This is nonsense. And if you're going to sign onto nonsense, you ought to have to vote for nonsense." 

After a year of extreme weather, including historic, deadly fires and hurricanes, as well as reports that 2018 was one of the warmest years on record, Democrats argue they have public opinion on their side.

Two polls released earlier this year found that a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening. More than 70 percent of respondents held that view, according to a University of Chicago and Associated Press poll. Meanwhile, 73 percent told researchers at Yale University and George Mason University that global warming is happening, marking a 10-point shift from March 2015.

But Republicans and the White House doubled down Tuesday on their belief that the Democrats coalescing around the Green New Deal could pay dividends for the president and GOP lawmakers during next year's election. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Graham: 'Stupid' for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden Turkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate MORE (R-S.C.) said Trump brought up the proposal during a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans and told them to "make sure you don't kill it too much, because I want to run against it." 

As the Senate floor drama unfolded Tuesday, the Democratic-led House remained quiet as to how it plans to address its own Green New Deal resolution.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump lashes out at Pelosi as she visits Jordan to discuss Syria Thomas D'Alesandro III, brother of Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90 MORE (D-Calif.) has not committed to holding a hearing on the plan, despite calls from House GOP leaders last week to do so. And Ocasio-Cortez nor climate activist supporters of the legislation have called for a similar vote on the legislation in the House.

The House GOP campaign arm pounced on the reality Tuesday, with National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Michael McAdams saying progressives should “demand” Pelosi bring the Green New Deal up for a vote otherwise “they should quit their political posturing and admit the Green New Deal is nothing but a fantasy right up there with Bigfoot and rainbow unicorns.”