Senate Republicans accused Democrats on Monday of trying to “duck” a vote on the Green New Deal, the hotly contested climate change measure expected to hit the Senate floor this week.
In a digital ad, Senate Republicans said “Democrats who lined up to support the Green New Deal are now getting ready to duck the vote,” a point emphasized by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman John Barrasso.
“I think it’s important to let the American people know where the Democrats, and specifically the Democrats running for president, stand on this, but it does seem they want to duck it, they want to dodge it, they want to distance themselves from this so-called Green New Deal,” the Wyoming Republican said on Fox’s “Your World.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will bring the sweeping Democratic resolution sponsored by Sen. Edward Markey — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the House sponsor — for a floor vote, which could happen as early as Tuesday.
The non-binding resolution calls for achieving net-zero U.S. emissions with a 10-year national mobilization plan, an ambitious goal that supporters describe as urgently needed to combat climate change but foes, including the AFL-CIO, have decried as an unrealistically expensive job killer.
Still, the measure has a slew of high-profile co-sponsors, led by Sens. Cory A. Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala D. Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernard Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — all Democratic presidential contenders.
The Green New Deal is not expected to pass, given that Republicans control the Senate, but a vote would put Democrats on the spot by forcing them to go on the record on an issue that splits centrist and left-wing voters.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer plans to thwart the effort by having Democrats vote “present” on the resolution, although at least one, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, has said he will vote against it, according to the Hill.
Mr. Barrasso described the Green New Deal as “unworkable and unaffordable,” citing the price tag estimated by Republicans at $93 trillion.
“The cost would empty everyone’s savings account in America,” said Mr. Barrasso. “They’re talking $65,000 per year would be the cost to the average family in America.”
He said energy costs per family would rise by $3,800 annually, but that the measure “won’t accomplish anything of what they really say they want to do in terms of actually changing emissions.”
Democrats have countered by accusing Republicans of having no plan to fight climate change, but one Senate Republican, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, introduced Monday a formidable five-year plan to reduce emissions called the New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy.
His legislation would “double federal funding for energy research and focus on Ten Grand Challenges for the next five years to create new sources of cheap, clean energy,” according to a press release.
Mr. Alexander, who has said he will not seek re-election in 2020, also dismissed the Green New Deal.
“I believe the Democrat cure for climate change is so far out in left field that not many are going to take it seriously,” he said. “The Democrats’ Green New Deal is basically an assault on cars, cows and combustion. And with nuclear power available, its strategy for fighting climate change with windmills makes as much sense as going to war in sailboats.”
Some Democrats have argued that the Green New Deal, as a non-binding resolution, should be viewed as an aspirational stance, not a hard-and-fast policy document.
“I do realize that maybe some in the Senate are not ready to embrace that, but I think that to be honest with you, it is merely aspirational and sets some goals out there, rather than actually does anything,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, on Fox.
Since 2007, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 13 percent, “and we’re only 13 percent of global emissions,” said Mr. Barrasso.