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Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence – ‘Reluctant to endorse plan that would remake economy’

A resolution outlining the goals of the Green New Deal capped off its first week of a somewhat messy rollout with mixed reviews, even from typically Democratic strongholds like labor unions.

In the House, the top two Democrats who would oversee any legislation that comes out of the plan have remained reluctant to fully endorse it, stopping at lauding the goals and the enthusiasm behind them. And Republicans quickly branded the Green New Deal as an extreme, socialist plan with unrealistic proposals to eliminate air travel and cows.

[Democrats unveil Green New Deal that would push government to make radical changes]

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Rep. Paul Tonko, D-New York, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce’s Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, said he embraces the “goals and principles” of the Green New Deal resolution, but did not endorse the broader plan to radically remake the U.S. economy to combat climate change and make the country more resilient.

“I appreciate the consciousness that they’ve raised among Americans coast to coast, but I think my role as chairman and the role of the subcommittee … is to design and develop the tools that get us to those goals and that will be done on science-based, evidence-based grounding,” he said.

Tonko’s committee would be one of the first stops for much of the legislation that might follow the Green New Deal resolution.

The nonbinding resolution introduced Feb. 7 in the House by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, who campaigned as a champion of the Green New Deal agenda, and in the Senate by Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts, calls on lawmakers to endorse steps to vastly remake many sectors of the U.S. economy, including moving to 100 percent renewable energy, upgrading infrastructure, boosting oversight of financial services and cleaning up farming processes. It also calls for social justice reforms for minority, low income and other communities that have historically not enjoyed the benefits of the country’s economic growth.

But the rollout, while widely cheered by progressive groups and the more liberal Democrats, opened a door for Republicans to tap into voters’ fears by framing the Green New Deal as a socialist to-do list. An unvetted fact sheet on Ocasio-Cortez’s website stated that the plan would provide economic security “to all who are unable or unwilling to work,” a stipulation not included in the resolution and one that has been repeated by critics.