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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-CortezNY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap The Memo: How liberal will the Biden presidency be? Five hurdles Democrats face to pass an infrastructure bill 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 McConnellMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Colin Powell on Afghanistan: 'We've done all we can do' 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 MarkeyEd MarkeyHillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Give Republicans the climate credit they deserve 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 PelosiPelosi says she would have put up a fight against Capitol mob: 'I'm a street fighter' Biden to address Congress on April 28 NY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap 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 TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report 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 CastorHillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Lawmakers wager barbecue, sweets and crab claws ahead of Super Bowl 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 ScaliseBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Republican House campaign arm rakes in .7 million in first quarter The Hill's Morning Report - Biden seeks expanded government, tax hikes 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) GaetzAssociate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Congress returns; infrastructure takes center stage 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 RomneyFamily policy that could appeal to the right and the left Press: Corporate America defies the GOP Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' MORE (Utah), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP lawmaker 'encouraged' by Biden's Afghanistan strategy Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Graham: 'A full withdrawal from Afghanistan is dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous' MORE (S.C.) and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt's retirement deals blow to McConnell inner circle 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.”