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McConnell plans vote on Green New Deal, putting 2020 Dems on the spot

The GOP sees a chance to go on offense against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's climate plan.
Image: Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans a vote on the Green New Deal "to give everyone an opportunity to go on record."J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday he plans to hold a vote on the Green New Deal — an apparent effort to put Democrats, including several presidential contenders, on record supporting an environmental plan that Republicans say is a politically damaging overreach.

"I’ve noted with great interest, the Green New Deal," McConnell told reporters. "And we're going to be voting on that in the Senate, going to give everyone an opportunity to go on record, and see how they feel about the Green New Deal."

The Green New Deal, backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is nonbinding, meaning it would not have the force of law even it passed and were signed by the president.

The 14-page document released Thursday sets a goal of moving to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 and outlines a series of broad methods to achieve it, like upgrading or replacing existing buildings to be more energy efficient, upgrading electric grids to make better use of renewable energy, and investing in electric vehicles and mass transportation. It also includes a call to guarantee a well-paying job for every American and provide universal health care and housing.

A number of current or potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates signed onto the resolution, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Republicans from President Donald Trump on down have denounced the plan, although much of the criticism has focused on a separate fact sheet that was posted and subsequently retracted by Ocasio-Cortez's office and that the rest of the resolution's sponsors did not sign onto.

That document contained language not in the resolution, such as a call for "economic security" for those "unable or unwilling to work," a plan for “high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary," opposition to nuclear energy, and a joke about the difficulty of regulating cow flatulence (which is a real environmental concern). Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff tweeted on Saturday that the post was an "early draft" that was released prematurely and "doesn't represent the GND resolution" that was agreed to with other lawmakers.

The confusion created headaches for Democratic messaging, but it also makes it harder to pin down Democrats on the plan, since its actual text offers few specifics and gives them a wide berth to describe how they'd achieve its goals.