WASHINGTON – The Green New Deal appears to be losing a bit of its shine.
After an initial rush by Democratic luminaries to endorse the ambitious social justice plan championed by liberal stalwart Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to address climate change, some in the party have started pushing back.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said "there's no way to pay for" the Green New Deal and is drafting a narrower alternative. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has criticized the plan as a "dream" that would hurt regions dependent on reliable, affordable energy. Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., praised the Green New Deal's goal to wean the country off fossil fuels but said it's far too ambitious.
"I’m a pragmatist," Slotkin said in a recent statement. "While I agree with the need to reduce carbon emissions, I believe that setting a 10-year goal to go totally carbon-free, as is currently specified in the Green New Deal, does not set us up for success – particularly given the range of energy sources that communities and industries rely on."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has kept her distance from the Green New Deal, referring to the plan in an interview last month as “the green dream or whatever they call it."
An aide for House Democrats said Tuesday that there was no timetable to bring the Green New Deal to the floor for a vote.
Spurred by government reports warning of drastic consequences, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., unveiled the nonbinding plan in February.
It calls not only for combating climate change by eliminating carbon emissions and remolding the economy to one powered by renewable fuels, but also prescribes a broad social justice platform advocating for free housing, medical coverage and higher education for all Americans.
Most of the major Democratic presidential hopefuls have endorsed the proposal, which has drawn 100 co-sponsors in Congress.
Republican leaders on Capitol Hill deride the Green New Deal as a far-left gambit that would bankrupt the country.
They consider it so politically advantageous that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to bring the measure to the Senate floor – an unusual step considering the Kentucky Republican spends much of his energy preventing legislation he opposes from getting a vote.
The bill will be brought for a vote "to give everybody an opportunity to go on record to see how they feel about the Green New Deal," McConnell said recently.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., acknowledges the Green New Deal doesn't have universal backing in his caucus.
But "Democrats believe strongly that we have to do something about climate change," he told reporters Tuesday. "There are different views as to what we should do, but we're united in the fact that we should do something."
Public opinion polling has been limited on the Green New Deal, but support to act against climate change appears to be growing.
Seven in 10 Americans (73 percent) believe global warming is happening, an increase of 10 percentage points since March 2015, compared with14 percent who don't, according to a report in January by Yale University in Connecticut and George Mason University in Virginia.
"Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it isn’t by more than a 5-to-1 ratio," the report concluded.
Slotkin, the Michigan congresswoman, said it's important not to overshoot, especially when only bipartisan solutions will pass Congress and be signed into law over the next two years.
"With an issue this urgent, we must focus both on big, bold initiatives, as well as on concrete steps we can take in the near-term," she said. "This means building from areas where we have the most common ground."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Green New Deal too ambitious for some Democrats, even those who say Congress must 'do something'