Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘green New Deal’ blocked by Senate Republicans

Staff and agencies

The US Senate has defeated a proposal to take up the so-called Green New Deal as both parties shunned an opportunity to debate a comprehensive climate change plan offered by liberal Democrats.

Majority Republicans forced the vote on Tuesday as they tried to turn the far-reaching Green New Deal into a wedge issue in the 2020 elections.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been leading the charge with the ambitious package.

Democrats called their opponents’ move a “sham” and said it carried its own political risk by mocking an issue that a growing number of Americans care deeply about.

Senators voted 57-0 against a procedural motion to take up the non-binding resolution, which calls for the US to shift away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

Forty-three Democrats voted “present” to protest the Republicans’ action, while four of their number voted alongside the other party.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell initially scheduled the vote on the Green New Deal, saying it would force Democrats to take a stand on a plan that “might sound like a neat idea in places like San Francisco or New York” but would result in communities across the country being “absolutely crushed”.

Ahead of the vote, Senator Mike Lee called the climate change package “ridiculous” and displayed pictures of dinosaurs, cartoon characters and babies on the Senate floor. He said he was treating the plan “with the seriousness it deserves”.

Mr Lee’s remarks enraged Democrats, who called climate change deadly serious, citing recent floods in the Midwest, wildfires in the West and hurricanes in the South.

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, one of six senators seeking the Democratic nomination for president, said Republicans were treating climate “as a game” and that Democrats “will not fall for this stunt”.

Addressing global warming “should be our nation’s moonshot” in the 21st century, Ms Gillibrand said, calling it a generational challenge similar to the race to the moon in the 1960s.

Her comments came as vice president Mike Pence announced he hoped to put American astronauts back on the moon in the next decade.

“We don’t know if we can get to net-zero carbon emissions in 10 years, but why not try?” Ms Gillibrand said at a rally before the Senate vote.

Associated Press