Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted against advancing Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) Green New Deal resolution to the Senate floor for debate and a final vote. Forty-two Democratic senators and one Independent, including all of the resolution’s Senate co-sponsors, voted “present” on the motion to proceed. All 53 Republicans, three Democrats and one Independent voted against it.
When unveiling the Green New Deal at a press conference in February, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) led House and Senate co-sponsors in a call-and-response chant that went like this:
“What do we want?”
“The Green New Deal!”
“When do we want it?”
But when it came time to stand up for their flagship climate initiative, the Senate co-sponsors, including six presidential candidates, took a pass. This laugh-out-loud documentary tweeted yesterday by Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) might be titled: “Profiles in Courage: Not.”
The Senate voted on the Green New Deal today: 0 Yeas, 57 Nays, and 43 Senators voted PRESENT pic.twitter.com/nvcnXA7zPe
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) March 26, 2019
Why did Senate Democrats refuse to vote for the Green New Deal they want “now” despite the alleged “existential threat” and moral imperative for a “new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal”?
They denounced the vote convened by Leader McConnell as a “sham,” which makes no sense. As long as there is no hanky-panky with the vote tallies, every vote in Congress is the real deal.
Thought experiment: what if, following the Green New Deal press conference, Sen. McConnell had told the American people he would never, ever allow a vote on the resolution? Would the resolution’s backers have cheered McConnell as a great leader? More likely, they would have denounced him for trying to muzzle them and keep Americans in the dark about climate change.
When former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was majority leader, he often used his power to prevent House-passed GOP initiatives from coming to the floor. McConnell is doing just the reverse—allowing and indeed expediting a vote on the Green New Deal. Yet for that Democrats castigate rather than thank him.
Voting yea or nay on the record is the heart of the legislative process. The real sham is what 42 Senate Democrats and Bernie Sanders did—grandstanding for the Green New Deal to mobilize their radical base while colluding to hide their different viewpoints and levels of commitment by voting “present” as a bloc. Think of it this way—if bloc-voting “present” on controversial issues were common practice, the world’s “greatest deliberative body” would be a complete farce.
The Green New Deal is not a statute, but a mere vision statement in the form of a non-binding resolution. It is gutless even by Beltway standards for Democrats not to take a stand on their signature climate initiative, which all of their presidential candidates co-sponsor.
Democratic leaders and their media allies faulted McConnell for using the Green New Deal as a “political ploy” to “divide Democrats.” But who drew first blood? The Green New Deal is itself a political ploy to recruit climate activists for their 2020 campaigns.
The Green New Deal’s sponsors exhort us to pay any price and bear any burden to combat climate change. But when given the chance to show their dedication to the cause, voting for their own bill is somehow too great a personal sacrifice. It doesn’t get much swampier than that.