Democrats called the vote a stunt created by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to embarrass them.
They’re right, but he could only do it because the Green New Deal was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), and most of the Democratic senators running for president have publicly endorsed it.
With that sort of set up, McConnell would’ve been missing an opportunity if he didn’t call for a vote on the bill.
The vote was 57 against and 43 “present” – all Democrats – avoiding an up-or-down vote. Republicans won over Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and one Independent senator, Angus King of Maine, who usually votes with the GOP.
The Green New Deal, introduced in January by Markey and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), marked an initial attempt to define legislation to create government-led investments in clean energy like wind and solar power, infrastructure and social programs.
Democrats have said the plan was designed to spur debate during the 2020 campaign on the intricate problem of how to tackle climate change while boosting the economy – not to force the party to take sides in a quick vote.
McConnell wrote on Twitter that he supported such a vote so that Americans could see which senators are against the deal and which “are so fully committed to radical left-wing ideology that they can’t even vote ‘no’ on self-inflicted economic ruin that would take a sledgehammer to America’s middle class.”
Asked before the vote whether he believes climate change is happening and if humans are contributing to it, McConnell said: “I do. The question is how do you address it.”
He said the way to fight climate change was by encouraging private companies to innovate.
The Green New Deal called for eliminating almost all fossil fuel from the U.S. economy by 2030, eliminating air travel, and putting vast amounts of private resources under government control.
While the Republicans succeeded in mocking the bill – which is more fantasy than anything else – they did not put forth a well-reasoned alternative that speaks to curbing some effects of warming temperatures or outline better ways to improve the human condition.
In that way, the vote in the senate was yet another empty gesture by both political parties that cost taxpayers money and yielded nothing.