McConnell to set up vote on Ocasio-Cortez's 'Green New Deal'

The Senate will hold a vote on the Green New Deal, an environmental and energy plan touted by progressives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell to try to pass small business funds Thursday, warns against holding it 'hostage' Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal House Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans MORE (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday.

McConnell told reporters after a meeting of the Senate Republican caucus that he has “great interest” in the plan, which would spell an end for coal, a key economic driver in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, while promising new jobs for out-of-work miners and other workers.

“We’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal,” McConnell said.

McConnell did not say when the vote would happen. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said the vote has not been scheduled.

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Progressives, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezIlhan Omar edits headline of New York Post article slamming the Squad: 'There, fixed it for you' Trump urges Sanders supporters to join GOP after senator suspends campaign What the coronavirus reveals about the race grievance industry MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyFive things to watch as Wuhan emerges from coronavirus lockdown Hillicon Valley: Google bans Zoom from its work computers | Dem cautions White House against using surveillance to fight virus | Lawmakers push House leaders on remote voting Senate Democrat presses White House on reported coronavirus surveillance system efforts MORE (D-Mass.), introduced the climate change resolution last week.

It strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and creating millions of "good, high-wage jobs,” among other goals. But it does not prescribe specific steps to reach those goals, and is merely a “sense of the Senate” measure.

The deal has no chance of passing the Senate, where it will need 51 votes and faces united opposition from Republicans, who hold 53 of the chamber’s 100 seats.

But it will force Senate Democrats, including a slew of 2020 presidential candidates, to vote on the proposal — potentially providing votes for McConnell and the GOP to exploit politically.

“It’s astonishing to see this many presidential candidates moving so far to the left on a position that is going to raise energy costs for families, hurt jobs in America and really provide almost a government takeover of many of the industries in our country,” said Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns Lobbying world MORE (Wyo.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and a member of GOP leadership.

Barrasso said his main motivation in bringing the deal up for a vote is the presidential election, adding that it’s important, “to get people on record as to how much they really want to take this country in a hard left direction.”

Multiple Democrats who are running or considering running in the 2020 presidential election have backed the plan, including Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerFormer Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report Michael Bennet endorses Biden for president Democrats salivate over Obama coming off sidelines MORE (N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Mnuchin, Schumer in talks to strike short-term relief deal | Small businesses struggling for loans | Treasury IG sends Dems report on handling of Trump tax returns Trump says Obama knows 'something that you don't know' about Biden Senators push for changes to small business aid MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFormer Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report Sanders exit leaves deep disappointment on left Michael Bennet endorses Biden for president MORE (D-Minn.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandFormer Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report States battle each other for equipment in supply chain crunch The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight MORE (N.Y.).

Republicans have largely lashed out and mocked the proposal.

“If you read the 14 pages of this Green New Deal, it goes way beyond just energy. It’s almost a manifesto of a whole change in what, to me, is democracy in America,” Barrasso said.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeHouse Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump Navy chief resigns amid uproar over handling of aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis COVID-19 and the coming corruption pandemic MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and an outspoken climate change skeptic, called the Green New Deal to a political ploy.

“We’re trying to save a country here, and anytime they put a personal ideology into something that is more important than the military and everything else, I think is a waste of time,” he said Tuesday of the GOP’s plan to force a vote.

Democrats immediately knocked Republicans for bringing the bill up for a vote, urging reporters to focus on what plan Republicans have to combat climate change. 

"My reaction is the first question Republicans should answer is what is their answer on climate change? What are they going to put forward," said Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans Rep. Massie threatens to block next relief bill, calls for remote voting Democratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus stimulus MORE (D-N.Y.). 

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Trump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act MORE (D-Hawaii) said in a tweet that "the R plan for addressing climate change does not exist."

Markey welcomed the debate and the vote.

“Republicans don’t want to debate climate change, they only want to deny it,” he said in a statement.

“They have offered no plan to address this economic and national security threat and want to sabotage any effort that makes Big Oil and corporate polluters pay. The principles of the Green New Deal resonate with the American people — a mission to save all of creation by investing in massive job creation."

—Updated at 4:21 p.m.