- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal withered in the heat of the Senate on Tuesday as Republicans delivered a decisive spanking to liberal activists’ plan to reshape American society.

Not a single senator backed the freshman congresswoman’s legislation, which was defeated in a 57-0 filibuster. Forty-three Democrats refused to take a stand and voted “present.”

Republicans said the vote was a catastrophic blow to one of the hottest liberal policy ideas to hit Washington in years. The bill called for an upheaval in American energy, an overhaul of the construction sector and history’s largest expansion of the social safety net.

“The American people will see,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said ahead of the vote. “They’ll see which senators are so fully committed to radical left-wing ideology that they can’t even vote ‘no’ on self-inflicted economic ruin that would take a sledgehammer to America’s middle class.”

The vote left Democrats scrambling for footing. They called Mr. McConnell’s move to force a vote a “sham,” complained that they had been ambushed and said they never considered Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to be a viable option.

Even Sen. Edward J. Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who wrote the Green New Deal with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, didn’t vote for it.

Instead, he joined most fellow Democrats in registering as “present.”

“To ordinary people, climate change is not politics. It is life and death,” Mr. Markey said. “The Green New Deal is not just a resolution; it is a revolution that has begun in this country.”

Yet four members of the Democratic caucus who joined the Republican filibuster punctured claims a sham.

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, as well as Sen. Angus S. King Jr. of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted against the plan.

Top Democrats still insisted they had won.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said they used the vote to force Republicans to answer questions about whether they believe in global warming and whether they believe humans are responsible.

“We Democrats are on offense,” he said. “We’re feeling really good about where we’re moving.”

Republicans countered that they have acknowledged global warming and have said humans are contributing to it.

Where they disagree is on the need for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s plan, which in 16 pages of legislative language sets a goal within 10 years of zero greenhouse gas emissions, guaranteeing a job for every American, expanding government support for college and health care, requiring every building to be retrofitted for energy and water efficiency, and imposing those standards on all new construction.

Backers say it’s a bold vision that could produce millions of clean-energy jobs, boost the U.S. on the world stage and possibly save the planet.

Republicans, and some Democrats, mocked it as a fantasy. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the senior Democrat in Congress, has referred to the plan as the “Green Dream.”

No official price tag exists, but one conservative group said it could sock taxpayers and the economy with as much as $93 trillion over the next 10 years.

Republicans professed to be stunned by the vote.

Every one of the six senators running for the Democratic presidential nod in 2020 is a co-sponsor of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s plan, but none of them voted for the legislation.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the self-professed supporters of a piece of legislation more angry or irritated that they would actually have to vote on it,” Mr. McConnell said.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, one of the presidential hopefuls, said she is proud to sponsor the Green New Deal, but she objected to Republicans’ “political stunts.”

“Combating this crisis first requires the Republican majority to stop denying science and finally admit that climate change is real and humans are the dominant cause,” she said. “Then we can get serious about taking action to tackle the climate crisis at the scale of the problem.”

The sham claims fell short for some Democrats, though.

Mr. Manchin, one of the four Democrats who voted against the proposal, called the Green New Deal an “aspirational document” and said he was happy it had started a debate, but he added that it falls short of reality.

“I think we need to focus on real solutions that recognize the role fossil fuels will continue to play,” said Mr. Manchin, who represents a major coal and natural gas state.

The Green New Deal is likely to fare only a little better in the House.

Mrs. Pelosi has said the bill will go through the committee process like every other piece of legislation, signaling that it is not likely to get an independent vote.

That could be a disappointment to the activists who cheered Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Markey last month when they introduced their plan to massive media attention.

By contrast, the cable news networks gave the defeat footnote mentions.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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