- The Senate voted down the Green New Deal on Tuesday.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought the bill to the floor as a test vote to put Democrats on the record about a key campaign issue.
- Democrats largely voted “present” instead of for the bill, saying the vote in itself was a political stunt by McConnell.
WASHINGTON – The Senate rejected the Green New Deal on Tuesday in what Democrats described as a political stunt orchestrated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to force vulnerable incumbents to stake a position on the controversial and sweeping climate-change bill.
The Green New Deal received a vote without having gone through the formal committee process and, as a result, almost all Democrats voted “present” on the bill, bringing the final vote tally to 57 against and 0 in favour.
Three moderate Democrats in red states – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – along with Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, voted against the plan.
McConnell had characterised the vote as an “opportunity to go on the record” while railing against the bill’s many features that Republicans say would devastate the economy and would be uniquely unfair to the US as a whole.
“My colleagues want to pull the emergency brake on the US economy because it isn’t ‘green’ enough,” he said during a speech on the Senate floor. “But global carbon emissions are a global problem. We only produce about 15% of the global total.”
In a statement, Manchin elaborated on his vote against the plan, saying, “While I appreciate the renewed conversation around climate change that the Green New Deal and its supporters have sparked, I think we need to focus on real solutions that recognise the role fossil fuels will continue to play.”
“I have said it before: manmade climate change is real and it’s a serious threat to our citizens, to our economy, to our environment, to our national security and to our world,” he added. “This climate problem is a massive one and we must act, but aspirational documents will not solve this crisis – real solutions focused on innovation will.”
Before the vote, Democrats rallied outside the Capitol to bring attention to global climate change. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who is the Senate’s primary sponsor of the bill, said the Green New Deal vote would be just the beginning of a broader debate on the issue.
Democrats panned the vote as a political stunt
Markey called the vote a “mockery” of the Green New Deal, and Democrats largely dismissed it as a political ploy.
“That’s because they have no plan to fight climate change and no intention of passing legislation to combat it,” Markey wrote on Twitter. “They have to protect vulnerable Republicans from having to defend their climate science denial.”
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “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.”
“With this exercise, the Republican Majority has made a mockery of the legislative process,” Schumer added. “It is a political act, a political stunt. Everyone here knows it’s a stunt, including the Majority Leader himself. He put something on the floor and then votes no. What’s the point of that other than showing how hypocritical this act is?”
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York characterised it as a “bluff-vote” and a “disgrace.”
“The GOP’s whole game of wasting votes in Congress to target others ‘on the record,’ for leg they have no intent to pass, is a disgrace,” she wrote on Twitter. “Stop wasting the American peoples’ time + learn to govern. Our jobs aren’t for campaigning, & that’s exactly what these bluff-votes are for.”
Several of the Senate Democrats running for president in 2020 are cosponsors of the Green New Deal, including Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris.
And Republicans have made it abundantly clear that the Green New Deal is emblematic of their new boogeyman for the 2020 campaign: socialism.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spent the better part of week branding Senate Democrats in their 2020 target states as cowards too afraid to vote for the bill they ardently oppose.
Reminder: Democrats introduced the #GreenNewDeal in the House and Senate, provided legislative text, gathered co-sponsors, and even gave early drafts to the media.
Why are they upset about voting on it?
This is why:pic.twitter.com/SWsusCJKXq
— The Senate Majority (@NRSC) March 26, 2019
These types of votes often occur heading into tense election cycles, and Republicans have utilised them before. They can also come in the form of nonbinding resolutions to make a political statement, like when House Republicans passed a resolution praising Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just as Trump and many GOP campaigns zeroed in on immigration as a primary campaign issue in the 2018 midterm elections.
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