Schumer on ‘Green New Deal’ vote: ‘Bring it on’

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, February 15, 2019

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took to the floor yesterday morning to challenge his Republican counterpart to admit the realities of climate change in the latest rhetorical shot in the chamber’s “Green New Deal” fight.

“Today, I am issuing a challenge to the majority leader,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “I don’t do this often, and my colleagues know that I would rather work in a bipartisan way on climate change. But his stunt — his cynical stunt — demands a response.”

Schumer added, “I challenge Leader McConnell to say that our climate change crisis is real, that it’s caused by humans, and that Congress needs to act.”

Schumer’s speech follows the action Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took last night to ready the resolution outlining the priorities of the “Green New Deal” for a floor vote, likely scheduled for when the Senate reconvenes after next week’s President’s Day recess.

Schumer also said, “So when the Republican leader says he wants to bring the ‘Green New Deal’ resolution up for a vote, I say go for it. Bring it on.”

He said, “You think it might embarrass Democrats to vote on a nonbinding resolution that some of us may support but not others. Trust me, we’ll be fine because the American people know that our entire party actually believes that climate change is happening and it’s caused by humans.”

“Leader McConnell thinks the ‘Green New Deal’ is just a resolution, but the ‘Green New Deal’ is a revolution,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the Senate’s “Green New Deal” sponsor.

Republicans have criticized the “Green New Deal” document as a “socialist fantasy” for its potential high price tag to transition the nation’s leading economic sectors to clean and zero-carbon technologies.

They have especially taken issue with some of the progressive priorities like universal health care that backers have attached to the measure.

“I’ve noted with great interest the ‘Green New Deal,'” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday (E&E News PM, Feb. 12). “We’re gonna be voting on that in the Senate. It will give everybody the opportunity to go on the record and see how they feel about the ‘Green New Deal.'”

Democrats accused McConnell of trying to sabotage the resolution, noting the likelihood that Republicans would vote against the climate measure without providing an alternative of their own.

Schumer noted in his floor speech that throughout the Republican four-plus years of controlling the chamber, McConnell has not offered any legislation related to carbon emissions.

“We’re supposed to conduct the business of the nation. We’re supposed to tackle our country’s greatest challenges,” Schumer said.

“Climate change is probably the No. 1 threat to our planet,” he added. “And yet not a single Republican bill that addresses climate change in a meaningful way to reach the floor. Not a one.”

Schumer added, “Ironically, the first measure to address climate change from the Republican leader will be one that he wants all of his members to vote against.”

Republicans have even worked to undo some of the climate regulations put forward by the Obama administration, including a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify efforts like the Clean Power Plan. GOP lawmakers argued the high economic costs of that regulation warranted the effort to repeal the carbon measure.

“If implemented, the plan will put millions of people out of work and it will cost tens of trillions of dollars,” Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday about the “Green New Deal.” “The plan to me is less about climate change, more about putting government in control of every facet of our lives.”