Senate Republicans leaders bashed the progressive Green New Deal on Tuesday as an unaffordable mess — but promised to allow it to come up for a vote.
Democrats proposed the Green New Deal resolution recently as an expansive — and wildly expensive — pro-environment overhaul of the economy. But the plan has faced criticisms for being much too far-reaching. Senate Republicans are allowing the proposal to come up for a vote in a move that could pit opponents against each other.
“I think the Green New Deal continues to be an interesting discussion for particularly Republicans,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters during a press conference.
“We will, of course, give our Democratic friends who have been advocating [for] this proposal an opportunity to debate and vote on it on the Senate floor some time in the next couple of weeks.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has been at the forefront of efforts to push the proposal since unveiling it alongside other progressive lawmakers on February 7. But its introduction was met with a cold shoulder by party leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dismissed the proposal when asked about it shortly afterward, referring to it at one point as a “green dream.”
“The words affordable, unobtainable and unrealistic come to mind when I think of this Green New Deal,” Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) told reporters. “We’re going to give Democrats the opportunity to vote on this legislation, which I think is reflective of the broader shift to the Left we’ve seen in the national agenda of the Democratic Party. Republicans, on the other hand, will have the opportunity to stand up for working Americans in the votes we cast.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) warned such a proposal threatens to reverse the positive economic trends of the past couple of years. He noted that wage growth has been at its highest level in a decade.
He also noted the president has created 5.3 million jobs since taking office.
“So we’re seeing greater growth in the economy, higher wages, a record-high median household income, lots of good things happening out there is the economy, much of which is attributable to policies like tax reform and regulatory reform,” Thune said. “The point is the economy is doing really well, which begs the question why do Democrats want to reverse all that progress and go back to policies that we know have failed, whether it’s the Green New Deal or Medicare for All.”
The Green New Deal is a decade-long initiative to create a greenhouse gas-neutral society.
It includes rebuilding the national infrastructure, restoring the natural ecosystems, dramatically expanding renewable power generation, overhauling the entire transportation system, upgrading all buildings, jump-starting clean manufacturing — and transforming agriculture.
There are theories among many scientists that greenhouse gases may be a major contributor to climate change.
“The Green New Deal continued to be a big green bomb in terms of the issues affecting the American public,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said. “I think it would blow a big hole in the economy and we have a strong, growing and healthy economy. We have families that would never be able to afford the cost. All across the country, who could afford what they are asking in terms of increased taxes and increased energy costs?”
Those opposed to the plan have expressed concern it would come at an unmanageable cost.
American Action Forum, a center-right public policy group, and others found that such a plan could cost $5.7 trillion just to invest in renewable energy and storage alone. That is huge compared to the total national debt — which is $22 trillion.
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