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Senate fails to advance Green New Deal as Democrats protest McConnell 'sham vote'

Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, believe the plan is a winning issue for the GOP going into the election cycle.
Image: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a press conference in Washington on March 6, 2019.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a press conference in Washington on March 6, 2019.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday failed to advance the Green New Deal, the ambitious plan to combat climate change proposed by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after what Democrats said was a politically-motivated show vote.

The measure, which needed 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle, failed in a 0-57 vote, with 43 Democrats voting present.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted with Republicans against the measure, as did Sen. Angus King of Maine, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

The vote was doomed to fail even before it began both because Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and because many Democrats announced their plans to vote present ahead of time. In remarks before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that Republicans are not taking the warnings of climate change seriously.

“We’re not going to stand for sham bills that the other side is all voting no on. They know what a trick and joke and sham that is, so does all the American people,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor just before the vote began. “But we are finally talking about the issue, and that is great because climate change is not a joke. It's not a hoax, it's a crisis and that's why we're doing these things.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to force the vote in order to put Democrats up for reelection and those running for president in 2020 in a tough spot politically.

“Communities practically everywhere else would be absolutely crushed,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor Tuesday ahead of the vote. “Killing off entire domestic industries. Winding down millions of jobs. Basically outlawing the only sources of energy that working-class and middle-class families can actually afford."

McConnell also told reporters Tuesday that "a vote present today is a vote in favor of the Green New Deal."

Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, believe antipathy to the Green New Deal is a winning issue for the party going into the election cycle.

“The Green New Deal is not the solution for America, it is a big green bomb that will blow a hole in our strong, healthy and growing economy,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in remarks on the Senate floor before the vote. “That’s exactly why Democrats aren’t voting for it. That’s exactly why Democrats are ducking and dodging and distancing themselves from this so-called Green New Deal.”

When asked if Trump brought up the Green New Deal during the Senate GOP lunch today, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, "Yeah, he said, 'Make sure you don’t kill it too much because I want to run against it.'"

Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., along with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced the Green New Deal resolution in February. It calls for a complete transition to renewable energy by 2030 and to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of its Senate co-sponsors include Democratic presidential contenders Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.