Around New England

Joe Kennedy III:  Ed Markey Isn’t More Pro-Green-New-Deal Than I Am — And I Can Get It Done

October 12, 2019

U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III identified himself closely with the Green New Deal during a campaign appearance this week.

Kennedy appeared at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (named for his grand-uncle) at Harvard University in Cambridge on Thursday, October 10.

A female freshman from Hingham asked Kennedy about Exxonmobil stock owned by his family. She described the oil giant as “a company that spent more than a decade trying to advance climate change denial worldwide.”

“I’ll put my environmental record in Congress up against anybody’s. My record with the League of Conservation Voters, lifetime record, is a 95,” Kennedy said.

He added that no one can possibly find an instance where he voted against the environment and in favor of his family trust’s economic interests.

“Those assets are family assets that have been long held for an awfully long time, well before I was born — I exercise no control over them whatsoever,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy has called for ending the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, meaning a minority of members could not stop a majority from voting on a bill. He said the Green New Deal is a prime example of the need to ditch the filibuster, since under current rules it’s unlikely to come to a vote on the Senate floor even if Democrats win a majority in the November 2020 election.

“Congress has to address it. It’s one of the big reasons why I’m, unlike every other person in this race, am for ending the filibuster. Because I was, and am, an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. I was on it from day one. I took the Sunrise pledge, too. And if you want to deliver on what the promise of the Green New Deal is, Mitch McConnell ain’t gonna let you do it,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy (D-Newton) is challenging U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Malden) in the September 2020 Democratic primary in Massachusetts. Markey is the prime sponsor in the U.S. Senate of the Green New Deal bill, which originated with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).

One student asked Kennedy if getting rid of the filibuster might result in more radical legislation on one side or another, which he suggested might add to polarization in the country.

Kennedy said he struggled with that argument before he decided to call for ending the filibuster.

“It is actually calcifying a viewpoint that ends up structurally barring us from making the change that we need on so many levels, whether it’s gun violence, or voting rights, or environment and the Green New Deal or anything else,” Kennedy said.

In some circumstances, Kennedy said, U.S. senators representing about 11 percent of the population of the country can stop a vote on a bill, which he said is a bad thing because it hinders democracy.

A high school senior at Brookline High School asked Kennedy whether he is putting his own political career above the left-of-center agenda she believes in, given that Markey is a prime sponsor of the Green New Deal and also stands for other left-wing policies.

Kennedy said he can be more effective than Markey can.

“All the candidates in this race adjust to those policies,” Kennedy said, inviting her to ask, “Whether any of them can actually deliver on what you say.”