If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calls a vote on the “Green New Deal,” it looks likely that many — or even all — Senate Democrats would vote “present” to avoid a public intraparty fight, said activists, lawmakers and congressional aides.
The environmental group behind the climate resolution is not planning to punish Democratic lawmakers for doing so — a departure from the Sunrise Movement’s recent history of attacking both Democrats and Republicans who question the “Green New Deal,” a massive government-led jobs program.
“This vote is a sham,” said Evan Weber, co-founder and political director of the Sunrise Movement. “Mitch McConnell obviously doesn’t support [the “Green New Deal”] so he’s trying to put [the vote] forward as a political ploy.”
Because of that motivation, Weber said he would be fine with Senate Democrats simply voting “present” on the resolution — as most of them did in July 2017 when Senate Republicans tried to split the Democratic caucus by holding a vote on “Medicare for All,” a similar hot-button issue on the left.
“I think it’s perfectly reasonable and respectful for Senate Democrats to call it out for what it is, and if voting present is how they want to do that, by all means go for it,” Weber said.
The maneuver also could spare Senate Democrats and the Sunrise Movement from a politically difficult or embarrassing result.
So far, about a dozen senators have co-sponsored a Democratic-led resolution in favor of the “Green New Deal.”
And since McConnell first floated the idea of holding a vote on the “Green New Deal,” there’s been little indication that Senate Democrats would come out in force to support the plan, which calls on the U.S. to rapidly “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”
That includes a 10-year goal of generating “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”
Asked last week how he would vote on the “Green New Deal,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois wouldn’t say. “At this point … I can’t tell you,” Durbin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “I’ve read it and I’ve reread it and I asked [sponsor Sen.] Ed Markey [D-Mass.], what in the heck is this?”