WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Republican leaders forced a stunt vote Tuesday on a climate change measure they ridicule, seeking to corner Democratic presidential hopefuls over an expensive, economy-upending plan proposed by the party’s liberal left wing.
The chamber easily rejected the Green New Deal, a proposal offered by progressive Democrats that would dramatically shift the United States away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy in an ambitious effort to zero out greenhouse gas emissions within a decade.
It is less a hardened political policy than a blueprint of transformational action to combat the threat of climate change, and several Democrats running to challenge President Donald Trump next year have signed on to the non-binding plan.
Six Senate Democrats are 2020 White House candidates, and the chamber’s Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to get them on record supporting what his party believes would be a multitrillion-dollar boondoggle.
“I could not be more glad that the American people will have the opportunity to learn precisely where each one of their senators stand on the ‘Green New Deal’: a radical, top-down, socialist makeover of the entire U.S. economy,” McConnell said.
The legislation introduced by McConnell failed to advance, with zero votes in support, 57 opposed, and 43 Democrats — including all six presidential candidates — voting “present.”
Democrats accused the Senate’s Republican leadership of quashing debate and blocking any public hearings on climate change.
“We need real action on climate change — not this kind of sham vote,” 2020 contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said.
“Climate change is a global crisis, not a political game,” added Senator Elizabeth Warren, a liberal presidential candidate who supports the Green New Deal.
The plan does not detail how America will wean itself off of fossil fuels, or how much the ambitious transformation will cost.
Republicans are seeking to make climate change a wedge issue in the election.
Trump himself mocked Democrats over the plan. “No planes. No energy. When the wind stops blowing that’s the end of your electric,” he told a laughing crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference this month.
The plan’s champion is liberal first-term Reo. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a favorite target of conservatives.