The Senate will hold a vote on the Green New Deal, an environmental and energy plan touted by progressives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (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.
Progressives, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (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 Barrasso (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 Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (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 Inhofe (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 Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Sen. Brian Schatz (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.”