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) ManchinSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Trump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer MORE (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Angus KingAngus KingSenators ask FDA to crack down on non-dairy milks, cheeses Collins walks impeachment tightrope The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two 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 McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators 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-CortezImpeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa The Hill's Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill Twitter tells facial-recognition app maker to stop collecting its data Democratic senator presses facial recognition company after reports of law enforcement collaboration 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 SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments 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 WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement MORE (I-Vt.), who are both running for president.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment GOP senator calls for public health emergency over new coronavirus Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum 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 MurphyTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial 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 CollinsSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE (Maine) — who is up for reelection next year in a state won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Sekulow vows Bidens, Ukraine will be part of Trump impeachment defense Elizabeth Warren: More 'Hillary' than Hillary 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 GrahamSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment 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 PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address 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.”