Green New Deal fails in forced Senate vote

Senate Republicans pushed a Green New Deal vote
Senate Republicans pushed forward with a Green New Deal vote as they try positioning climate change as a political wedge issue.
Jose Luis Magana | AP file

Sen. Mike Lee made it obvious that Tuesday's vote on the Green New Deal wasn't an earnest attempt to reshape U.S. climate and economic policy.

"This is a picture of Aquaman, a superhero from the undersea kingdom of Atlantis," the Utah Republican said, flanked by one of several large poster boards he brought to the Senate. "I draw your attention, Mr. President, to the 20-foot impressive seahorse he is riding. Under the Green New Deal, this is probably Hawaii's best bet."

Lee was trying to point out, inaccurately, that the Green New Deal would "ban all airplanes," leaving Hawaiians stranded in the Pacific.

Rather, Lee's act was part of the Senate's procedural vote on a resolution supporting the creation of a Green New Deal, a roll call pushed by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he tries shaping climate change as a political wedge issue ahead of the 2020 elections.

McConnell calls the broad, vague set of proposals the Green New Deal encompasses a "destructive socialist daydream."

The Senate shot down the measure by a 57-0 vote. However, 43 senators — all Democrats or independents — cast "present" votes, including some senators who support the Green New Deal.

Many Democrats, including presidential contender and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, considered it a "partisan stunt."

She explained the strategy to vote "present" in a tweet: "I don't play ball with bad-faith farces."

The Green New Deal calls for the creation of a new select committee that would draft bills to make the U.S. economy carbon-free and take greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

So far, only congressional Democrats have supported the Green New Deal. But the level of their support varies from full-on backing from the likes of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to calling the plan "aspirational," like presidential candidate and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Klobuchar and Minnesota House Rep. Betty McCollum are sponsoring the Green New Deal legislation in their respective chambers. Rep. Ilhan Omar has vocally supported it, but is not listed as a co-sponsor in the bill's current iteration.

Outside Congress, the Green New Deal's principles have broad support among voters from across the political spectrum.

A Yale/George Mason survey in December found that 93 percent of liberal Democrats and 57 percent of conservative Republicans support the plan.

The survey left out party affiliations for who was supporting the proposal.

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