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 McConnellDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire 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-CortezGOP senator voices concern about Trump order, hasn't decided whether he'll back it Ocasio-Cortez in Bronx speech: New Yorkers deserve ‘dignified jobs’ Amazon exec invites Ocasio-Cortez to tour facilities after criticism MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGreen New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing We can have a Green New Deal, and air travel too 2020 Dem slams Green New Deal: As realistic as Trump's claim that Mexico will pay for wall 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 BarrassoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants Overnight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Senators highlight threat from invasive species 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 BookerSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters MORE (N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDNC punts on measure to reduce role of corporate PAC money Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Pollster says current 2020 surveys like picking best picture Oscar before movies come out O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (D-Minn.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Sanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president 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 InhofeOn The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency Foreign Affairs chairman: US military intervention in Venezuela 'not an option' 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 SchumerNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall MORE (D-N.Y.). 

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzTrump defends using DOD funds on border wall: 'Some of the generals think that this is more important' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Dems unveil bill to let VA doctors prescribe medical marijuana 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.