Senate GOP leaders who joined McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday criticized the measure, saying it would increase energy costs.
“To me, this is just so extreme,” said John Barrasso of Wyoming. “It is a bad deal for the American public.”
The legislation, a sweeping package of climate-change measures unveiled by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, has drawn a tepid response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who didn’t explicitly throw her support behind the ideas. McConnell’s aim is to split Democrats between the left-leaning members vying for the passions of their party’s base and more moderate senators who view the proposal as radical and disruptive.
“In a few short months the Green New Deal has become the vision for our future that most Americans want, and that terrifies the GOP,” Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent said in a statement. “McConnell is trying to intimidate Democrats and end debate on the Green New Deal to stop this freight train of momentum because he knows he’s losing, but all he’ll do is show just how out of touch Republican elected officials are from their voters.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York also dismissed McConnell’s plans for a vote.
“What is their answer on climate change?” Schumer asked reporters. “What are they going to put forward?”
The proposals known as the Green New Deal were crafted in conjunction with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The Democrats’ plan envisions shifting away from fossil fuels and other sources of emissions that cause global warming within 10 years. It also includes non-environmental measures designed to address issues like economic insecurity, housing and universal health care.
Endorsing some form of a Green New Deal has become a litmus test for Democrats going into the 2020 campaign. Five of the declared candidates for the party’s presidential nomination have signed on as co-sponsors of the measure in the Senate: Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Other Democrats have expressed support for the general concept of accelerating a conversion to renewable energy and cutting carbon emissions, if not the specific proposals in the legislation.
Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, accused McConnell of what he called a political stunt. He said Democrats could just simply “present” when the legislation comes before the chamber. Senate Democrats used a similar tactic when Republicans introduced a single-payer health care amendment to their 2017 health care bill.
“It may be that this becomes a consensus position in the Democratic caucus, I’m just not sure everybody’s there yet,” Murphy said of the climate change legislation. “Give everybody some time to learn about it, sign onto it. Mitch McConnell’s not interested in giving people time to learn about it.” DM