Ed Markey:  U.S. Senate Vote on Green New Deal Resolution ‘Republican Trick’

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/02/14/ed-markey-u-s-senate-vote-on-green-new-deal-resolution-republican-trick/

Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey is calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to hold a floor vote on Markey’s Green New Deal resolution a “Republican trick.”

Markey (D-Malden) tweeted his disapproval of McConnell’s statement on Tuesday, February 12:

Markey expanded on that theme during an interview Wednesday, February 13 on Boston Public Radio on WGBH FM 89.7.

Co-host Margery Eagan asked Markey if McConnell’s gambit might work.

“And you know, it seems to me what he’s going to do is make everybody look like they’re some kind of crunchy granola nut if they vote for the Green New Deal, and maybe hurt support,” Eagan said. “Are you worried about this vote?”

“Well, Republicans don’t want to debate climate change. They only want to deny it,” Markey said. “Republicans have offered no plan to address this economic and national security threat. And that’s why Mitch McConnell wants to sabotage this movement, that is calling for action, that threatens their fossil fuel friends. And by calling this vote the Republicans want to block the public hearings, block the expert testimony, block the historic debate.”

Eagan pressed Markey on whether the Senate might avoid public hearings on the Green New Deal by quickly voting down the resolution.

“They were never going to have hearings in the Senate. But that’s what we’re calling for,” Markey said. “O.K.? We’re calling for hearings, public debate on climate change.”

Republicans control the U.S. Senate, and therefore they control the agenda of committee meetings in the Senate.

Democrats control the U.S. House, where climate change hearings are already occurring.

The Green New Deal as envisioned by its chief sponsor, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), calls for not using oil, natural gas, or coal by 2030 and instead replacing them with so-called renewable resources that don’t produce carbon dioxide, like wind and solar energy. Supporters say that emissions from so-called fossil fuels are producing greenhouse gases that are in large measure causing climate change, including global warming that is melting Arctic ice and raising sea levels, thus threatening coastal areas.

“The resolution is a set of principles. It’s not prescriptions. It doesn’t lay out specifics. But it’s bold in its goals. It’s a 10-year mobilization towards the goal of having a hundred percent of our power demand come from clean, and renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” Markey said Wednesday on Boston Public Radio.

Markey drew a Cold War parallel from the 1980s.

“It reminds me a lot of the nuclear freeze movement, that just rose up, and ultimately a million people were in Central Park in 1982 saying, ‘The problem with the arms race is the arms race. End it. Freeze it.’ And that’s what drove Ronald Reagan to the table with Gorbachev. It was that movement,” Markey said.

“And that’s what we now have. We have a Green New Deal movement,” Markey continued. “And then, the details have to get negotiated. We don’t talk specifically about a carbon fee or a cap-and-trade system. But we don’t rule out anything. We don’t rule out any of the potential solutions. Now let’s have the debate.”

Markey is the lead sponsor in the U.S. Senate. Ocasio-Cortez is the lead sponsor in the U.S. House. They appeared at a joint press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, February 7 to announce the Green New Deal resolution.

As Boston Public Radio co-host Jim Braude noted Wednesday, February 13, on paper it seems an unlikely match. Markey, 72, has been in Congress almost 13 years longer than Ocasio-Cortez, 29, has been alive.

Markey offered some background on how the pairing came about.

“Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and I, we met for a couple of hours back in December, and we decided to partner, to work on a resolution that would be the umbrella for the Green New Deal movement in the country,” Markey said.

He didn’t say who contacted whom.

Markey acknowledged that Ocasio-Cortez’s staff has walked away from a fact sheet about the Green New Deal that her staff published that includes a guarantee of “Economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work.”

The fact sheet that Ocasio-Cortez’s office has disavowed also includes the following sentence:

“The Green New Deal sets a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, at the end of this 10-year plan because we aren’t sure that we will be able to fully get rid of, for example, emissions from cows or air travel by then.”

These lines drew howls from Republicans, who have painted the Green New Deal as not only destructive but also silly.

The fact sheet also put some leading Democrats in a tough spot – presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Kamala Harris (D-California), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) last week all quickly endorsed the Green New Deal resolution, which doesn’t explicitly call for getting rid of air travel or promising jobs to people who are “unwilling” to work.

Even with the misstep, Markey praised Ocasio-Cortez:

“She has an incredible ability to distill complex issues down to their core moral and political import. She’s passionate. She’s committed to this issue. She’s dynamic. And she’s looking to make a true difference. But at its heart, she’s right, and her critics are wrong in terms of her analysis of this problem, of this issue. And she speaks for an entire generation of young people, of millennials, who want a solution to be put in place. And they know that nothing has been put in place.”

Despite the uneven rollout, Markey said he is pleased with how things are going. He predicted that the Green New Deal will be a top-three issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

“We have struck a nerve with the American people, with the green generation. It’s only a week, and already everyone in the country is talking about a Green New Deal, you know?” Markey said. “And that’s what we want.”