Democrats to move on from Green New Deal

Democrats are putting the Green New Deal in the rearview mirror, but they’re not abandoning climate change legislation.

Supporters of the progressive measure are shifting their sights away from passing a comprehensive plan to create green jobs and pursue 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. They are instead looking at multiple bills in hopes of advancing elements of the broader initiative.

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The change comes after a heated few months where Republicans battered the idea of the Green New Deal, damaging a brand initially promoted by freshman 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.).

The Senate on Tuesday blocked legislation to advance the Green New Deal resolution on a procedural vote, with most Democrats voting present. 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.) set up the vote to test the Democratic Party’s unity over climate change, knowing many Senate Democrats didn’t want to publicly back the resolution’s ambitious goals.

Now, various supporters of the climate change measure, including Ocasio-Cortez, are focusing on new, smaller bills in an effort to get back on the offensive on climate change heading into 2020.

Asked what the next steps are for the Green New Deal, 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.) on Tuesday said the onus is on the Democratic-controlled House to take action.

“We’re now in the process where the hearings have started on the House side,” said Markey, who introduced the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate last month. “Committee after committee have had the first hearings that haven’t been held for eight years. And ideas and legislation will start emanating from committee after committee looking specifically at what has to happen.”

Markey voted present during Tuesday’s procedural vote in the Senate.

Advocacy groups that previously gave a full-throated defense of the Green New Deal are also scaling back their push for action on the resolution. Their calls for a House floor vote on the Green New Deal are nonexistent.

“Right now, our ask for members of the House and Senate is to co-sponsor the Green New Deal. With a climate change denier in the White House, we don’t anticipate this or any other legislation we support being signed into law in the next 21 months,” said Josh Nelson, co-director of Credo Action, a progressive group that has backed the resolution from its early days.

The Sunrise Movement, a youth activist organization that rose to prominence after holding a sit-in at 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’s (D-Calif.) congressional office demanding attention for climate change, downplayed the Green New Deal’s prospects in this Congress.

“It was never created with the intention of passing,” co-founder Varshini Prakash told reporters Tuesday.

The group’s next step is to focus on holding town halls across the country.

On the legislative front, Sunrise is in a holding pattern. The group and other like-minded organizations are waiting on Ocasio-Cortez to present a promised new bill that will include aspects of the Green New Deal.

“Ocasio-Cortez’s office is working on legislation in coming weeks and months,” Stephen O’Hanlon, communications director for Sunrise, told The Hill. “It won’t just be a resolution, it would be a bill that we’d want to pass through Congress that have the principles of the Green New Deal.”

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Ocasio-Cortez gave Democratic senators cover to vote present over the controversial resolution Tuesday, saying the GOP was more interested in holding “bluff-votes” for campaign purposes.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE on Wednesday said in an interview with Fox News he wants to campaign against the Green New Deal.

"I want them to keep going forward with it because I want to campaign against it," he said.

Trump previously called the proposal "the most preposterous thing" and said it was "easy to beat."

Corbin Trent, communications director for Ocasio-Cortez, told The Hill on Tuesday that the New York Democrat will likely roll out individual climate bills, instead of a comprehensive measure akin to the Green New Deal resolution.

“We’re trying to work with folks in the House and outside groups to turn this idea into more tangible, actual legislation, for sure,” Trent said. “The actual nuts and bolts of this is going to take a lot of people and a lot of work and a lot of thinking and putting these ideas and this vision into action. It’s not the easiest thing to do.”

“I think the goal here is to get this work done. We’ve seen more and more folks are co-sponsoring this legislation in the House and in the Senate. More and more candidates are getting behind this as a concept, and I think the next step is fleshing out the plans and bills and making this thing a reality,” he said.

Rhiana Gunn-Wright, co-founder and executive director of New Consensus, an outside group working with Ocasio-Cortez to draft legislation, anticipated that the measures won’t be ready until early next year.

Speaking to Axios on Monday, Gunn-Wright reflected on the lessons learned from the Green New Deal.

“I think the idea is you never let your message get too far out ahead of the substance, and we have definitely created a vacuum and left space for people to fill with what they think the Green New Deal is based on their assumptions and past experiences. It’s certainly a danger, but it’s a danger worth taking by ensuring we get front-line voices in,” Gunn-Wright said.

The shift in focus from passing the Green New Deal as a whole to advancing smaller bills may gather more support from moderate Democrats in the House, who in the past have criticized the broader plan as wishful thinking and not achievable.

Pelosi has remained noncommittal on holding a floor vote for the Green New Deal resolution. Instead, she promised some climate legislation would be debated soon, mentioning bills that could come from her newly established House Select Committee on Climate Crisis, chaired by Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Climate activist Greta Thunberg implores lawmakers to 'listen to the best available science' House approves two bills to block Trump drilling MORE (D-Fla.).

Castor on Wednesday introduced the Climate Action Now Act, a bill meant to bind the U.S. to its 2015 Paris climate accord commitments and ensure America reduces carbon emissions. It’s expected to be marked up in the near future.

House Republicans are pushing for a floor vote on the Green New Deal resolution that would force Democrats to take a position on the proposal. Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Scalise, Cole introduce resolution to change rules on impeachment Republicans seek to delay effort to censure Schiff after Cummings' death MORE (La.) on Wednesday introduced the outline of a proposed House Energy Action Team, whose main goal would be to bring up the Green New Deal for a vote in the House, to strike it down.

Various Republicans, meanwhile are introducing plans to counter the Green New Deal. Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public MORE (Fla.) is working on an alternative bill called Green Real Deal.

On the other side of the Capitol, GOP Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney appears to confirm name of secret Twitter account Graham: 'Stupid' for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden Turkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate MORE (Utah), 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 (S.C.) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP braces for impeachment brawl McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows GOP senator: 'Inappropriate' to discuss opponents, but impeachment a 'mistake' MORE (Tenn.) told The Hill they are all looking into introducing a federal program to incentivize business investment in carbon technologies.

Alexander, who is retiring, said on the Senate floor Monday: “I believe that human emissions are a major cause of climate change.”

He called for a five-year project, on the scale of the nation’s successful effort decades ago to develop the first atomic bomb, to “use American research and technology to put our country and our world firmly on the path toward cleaner, cheaper energy.”