A sham ‘show’ vote in the Senate today on the ‘Green New Deal’ (Updated)

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“The Enemy of The People,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is scheduling a sham “show” vote today on a motion to proceed on the Green New Deal resolution, which Republicans hope to use as a wedge issue in 2020. McConnell aims to use Green New Deal to divide Democrats, but party is unifying against his show vote:

Senate Republicans are trying to elevate the ideas and personalities of House Democrats in a bid to divide the opposition into the rising liberal stars, the party’s presidential contenders and its more mainstream lawmakers.

The effort begins with a midweek vote on the Green New Deal resolution, a loosely defined effort to combat climate change by dramatically reducing greenhouse-gas emissions coupled with job creation.

But of course Republicans are opposed to a cleaner safer environment and also job creation. We can’t have nice things.

Democrats have spent years proposing different versions of legislation to rein in the effects of climate change, but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has taken the Green New Deal and raised it to a new level with her political star power.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) believes the proposal, written by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), embraced by several top Democratic presidential contenders but criticized by the AFL-CIO as unrealistic, would be politically divisive for a party that has made winning back Midwest battleground states a top priority for 2020.

“The prevailing fashions in New York and San Francisco, that’s what is defining today’s Democrats,” McConnell said during a floor speech two weeks ago.

Douchebag. Do you know what is actually politically divisive in the Midwest, Mitch? Farmer bankruptcies swell to decade high in Farm Belt, and South Dakota governor says Trump trade wars have ‘devastated’ the state, and Donald Trump’s Trade Wars Leave U.S. Farmers ‘Helpless’ As Other Nations Gain Advantages, and Flooding woes add to trade war stress in ‘Trump country’ farm belt. Farmers are taking it in the shorts from Donald Trump and Republicans, but because they bought in to the personality cult of Donald Trump, Midwest farmers are still saying “please sir, may I have some more” abuse. The cult fever has yet to break.

McConnell has taken the original Green New Deal proposal, put it in his own resolution and scheduled what amounts to a show vote as the bill lacks the votes in the Republican-led Senate. But it’s doubtful the strategy will produce any immediate signs of division, as Democrats have largely rallied around the strategy from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to vote present.

The liberal activists who have helped Ocasio-Cortez elevate the Green New Deal are on board with the plan, dismissing McConnell as someone who sides with industry over the environment.

“The only reason he is calling for this vote is to score some points for the oil and gas [and coal] executives who bankroll his campaigns. This vote is a sham,” Stephen O’Hanlon, spokesman of the Sunrise Movement, told The Washington Post’s Energy 202 newsletter.

Sen. Markey called the McConnell effort “a sham” and plans to vote present even though he unveiled the proposal with Ocasio-Cortez.

But the Republicans seem intent, for now at least, to keep banking on the political newcomer’s image as one that will drive voters away from Democrats.

* * *

Democrats are pushing back by focusing on the danger of climate change and not making it about any individual politician, and they believe that several Senate Republicans could face political peril on the issue.

A Gallup poll last year found that 62 percent of adults thought that the government was doing “too little” to protect the environment, while an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 66 percent believe climate change is a “serious problem.”

Last fall, 13 federal agencies said climate change posed an environmental and economic threat that would worsen if the nation failed to combat global warming.

So Republicans are ignoring an economic and national security threat because they are the lickspittle lackeys of the Carbon Monopoly (oil, gas and coal). This is an abject dereliction of duty.

When the last human being breathes their last gasp of air on a dying planet, may they curse the wretched name of Mitch McConnell.

Schumer has offered a brief, simple resolution that begins with the most basic statement possible — “climate change is real” — and requests Congress to take “immediate action” on the issue. All Democrats have signed onto it, while Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the only Republican to cosponsor it.

Two GOP senators up for reelection next year, Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), will be voting on environmental policy as their states struggle to recover from historic flooding.

Last fall, Ernst said the climate “ebbs and flows through time” and Sasse said the problem isn’t something to legislate or regulate but rather “innovate our way into the future.”

Losers.

As the Senate is expected to vote today to scuttle the much-hyped Green New Deal that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has championed, other elected officials from both sides of the aisle are teeing up their own climate plans. ‘Let a thousand climate proposals bloom.’ Lawmakers tee up Green New Deal alternatives:

One Republican senator, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, is calling for a “new Manhattan Project for clean energy.” Another Democratic representative, Paul Tonko of New York, is outlining a framework for climate legislation that is “doable.”

The flurry of proposals — each of them, like the Green New Deal itself, sweeping if vague in their plans for action — comes as polling shows that Americans increasingly recognize the conspicuous effects of climate change in their own backyards after being battered by a series of intense wildfires and hurricanes in recent years.

“We can’t try and fail at this effort,” Tonko said in an interview Monday. “We have to get this right.”

The Green New Deal resolution, which calls for the United States to dramatically reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions, has energized progressives in ways few if any climate proposals have in the past. But its sweeping proposals, which include guaranteeing every American a high-paying job and high-quality health care, makes it unlikely to pass.

After the vote on Tuesday, there will likely an opening for other proposals to gain traction in the national discussion.

“We should let a thousand climate proposals bloom,” Tonko said.

Republicans, in particular, are grappling for a way to respond to progressive firebrand Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal without being dismissed as knuckle-dragging climate-change deniers.

Sorry, you can’t change what you are.

Alexander, one of the Senate’s more moderate Republicans, on Monday outlined a 10-point proposal for boosting research and development into new energy technologies, comparing his plan to the federal government’s 1940s effort to build a nuclear bomb before the Nazis.

Alexander outlined a five-year, Manhattan Project-style plan for finding “breakthroughs” in a number of energy technologies, including those that can capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and store electricity from wind and solar generators so they can be useful even when the weather does not cooperate. The plan is similar to one he put forward a decade ago.

He also emphasized putting more federal dollars toward research into developing electric vehicles, harnessing natural gas and inventing new types of nuclear reactors. In total Alexander, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on energy development, called for doubling federal energy research funding.

You should take note of the fact that Sen. Alexander is retiring from Congress, and he has little or no influence or leverage within his radical GOP Caucus. His proposals are as dead with the GOP as are the “Green New Deal” proposals of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. The GOP mantra on climate change is “burn, baby burn!

The Green New Deal’s supporters suggested that principles espoused in these alternative plans fit well within their own resolution, which was designed to be inclusive.

Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, responded:

Screen Shot 2019-03-26 at 10.03.26 AM

A running theme among the alternative proposals is an emphasis on innovation.

* * *

Yet perhaps the most consequential Green New Deal alternative comes from Tonko.

Last week, Tonko put forward a “framework” for climate-related legislation he would like to see before the House.

His proposal, like the Green New Deal, calls for an economic transition to cleaner energy sources that is fair to working-class people who are often employed in carbon-polluting industries. The plan called Congress to “set certain and enforceable targets” to get the United States to net-zero emissions by at least 2050.

Tonko’s opinion matters because the six-term congressman, unlike freshman Ocasio-Cortez, is the head of a key climate change subcommittee in the House through which much climate-related legislation will flow.

But the chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on climate change and the environment says he is not looking to pick a fight. Though Tonko has not officially sponsored Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution, he says his plan “complements the Green New Deal.”

Tonko envisions “a two-track approach” to climate legislation.

First, he wants House Democrats to work with Republicans to build a “consensus” and pass legislation that has a chance of being taken up by the GOP-led Senate. Areas of potential compromise include, according to Tonko, improving the energy efficiency of buildings and building out the electric grid to better support wind turbines and solar arrays.

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, including ranking Republican Greg Walden (Ore.), have supported similar efforts when they were in the majority in the House — and are signaling they want to again this term. “Republicans in Congress have pursued these common-sense initiatives to protect our environment and our economy, and we will work with Democrats that want to find practical and achievable solutions,” an aide to Republicans on the committee said.

The second part of Tonko’s two-track approach — which he acknowledges may need to wait until Democrats can win the Senate, White House or both — involves passing more comprehensive legislation, such as placing a price on emitting carbon into the atmosphere.

Though the Green New Deal does not mention pricing carbon, many economists say it is the most cost-effective way of reducing climate-warming emissions.

Tonko is keen on finding a way to do that, though he was noncommittal about exactly what form a price on carbon would take.

“We think carbon pricing can be a powerful tool,” Tonko said, “but it in and of itself is not sufficient.”

While Congress dickers over competing ideas rather than actually do something substantive, time is running out. I suspect Congress will still be arguing about the shape and size of the negotiating table and the seating arrangements when climate scientists announce that it is now too late to halt the environmental devastation of global climate change.

Of course, Republicans will then respond “Well, if it’s too late, I guess there’s nothing more to do.” Hopefully there is a special place in hell for these kind of people.

UPDATE: The Senate on Tuesday blocked the Green New Deal, a progressive climate change resolution that Republicans view as prime fodder heading into the 2020 presidential election. Senate blocks Green New Deal:

The Senate voted 0-57 on taking up the resolution, with 43 Democrats voting “present.”

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Angus King (I-Maine) voted with Republicans against the measure.

WTF, Sen. Sinema! You couldn’t just stick to the plan and vote “present”? You wanted some buy-in to Mitch McConnell’s partisan political stunt to attack Democrats? Do you understand to whom you owe your senate seat?

Speaking at a rally Tuesday morning, Sen. Ed Markey blasted Republicans for putting on a “sham vote.”

“They are calling a vote without hearings, without expert testimony, without any true discussion of the costs of climate inaction and the massive potential for clean energy job creation in our country. And that is because Sen. McConnell wants to sabotage the call for climate action,” he said.

A dozen Democratic senators co-sponsored Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, including six 2020 White House hopefuls. Those senators followed suit with Markey in voting present on the bill Tuesday.

Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) added that Republicans were making “a mockery of the legislative process” by bringing the Green New Deal resolution up for a vote just to have the Senate vote it down.

“Republicans want to force this political stunt to distract from the fact that they neither have a plan for a sense of urgency to deal with the threat of climate change. …It’s a political act. It’s a political stunt,” he said.

* * *

Progressive groups signaled ahead of the vote that they were giving senators a pass on the Green New Deal vote and were supportive of senators who planned to vote present.

But you don’t get a pass for siding with evil GOP bastard Mitch McConnell rather than voting “present.” Shame on you Kyrsten Sinema.




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