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Biggest obstacle to passage of Green New Deal? Democratic lawmakers  3 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

WASHINGTON – If the Green New Deal came up for a vote in the Democrat-controlled House, it would have trouble passing.

It's not that Democrats are divided about addressing climate change – they aren't. But the Green New Deal weighs in on much more than that, with its call for free college, Medicare for all, and job guarantees for all U.S. citizens.

"That's not legislation. It's a list of aspirations," Pelosi told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview Monday, about the expansive proposal championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. "Just because somebody has an idea doesn't mean it goes to the floor because the committee process and we build the support that we need for it. And that bill has many things that have nothing to do with climate. And so that has to go to different committees."

Pelosi's not alone in her reluctance to move quickly.

The nonbinding resolution is being slow-walked by Democrats leaders through various committees. And Pelosi, who watched her party lose the House in 2010 after voting to expand health care and address global warming, doesn't sound eager to rush the Green New Deal to the House floor.

Several party moderates leading a new climate-change panel said this month that they can't support the ambitious resolution.

Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., Sean Casten, D-Ill., Elaine Luria, D-Va., and Susan Wild, D-Pa, the four co-chairs of the New Democrat Coalition's Climate Change Task Force, each said they oppose the Green New Deal.

More than 100 of the 235 House Democrats are part of the coalition, including 17 on the climate panel.

All four, speaking to reporters during a Capitol Hill news conference, said that they applaud the attention the Green New Deal has brought to the issue and support its intent, but don't see it as a realistic solution.

"We all care about the same issues," Luria said. But "the Green New Deal is aspirational. What we plan to do is offer tangible, achievable things."

In contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is moving quickly to get a vote in the Senate. Convinced it's unpopular with voters, McConnell has vowed to bring the measure – which he adamantly opposes – to the floor as a way to get Democrats to go "on record" about the controversial proposal.

A procedural vote has been scheduled Monday that could lead to a floor vote as early as the end of the week.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, defended the Green New Deal resolution as "a vision for the just transformation of our economy and energy production system."

"That vision is supported by the majority of the American people and the residents of the Bronx and Queens," he said referring to the New York City district the congresswoman represents. "This office will do what we can to continue promoting policies that will improve the lives of the residents of the Bronx and Queens."

If the Green New Deal comes up for a vote in the House, Democrats could lose up to 18 members of their caucus and still pass the measure, assuming every Republican votes against it.

That's if it ever comes up for a vote.

Democratic leaders have not scheduled a vote and there's no indication one will occur anytime soon. Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the measure would go through committees first while adding she was "more excited" about the work that would be coming out of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

President Donald Trump, who has openly questioned his own administration's scientific reports on climate change, has ridiculed the Green New Deal, calling it "a high school term paper that got a low mark."

The task force hasn't officially met yet and has not gotten behind specific policy solutions. Beyer said he supports a pricing system for the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Casten said he favors a cap-and-trade system that would limit how much carbon is produced. Luria, a former nuclear engineer in the Navy, supports expanded nuclear power. 

"The aspirations of the Green New Deal are great," Casten said. "The amount of energy it's brought to this issue is fantastic. But doing energy policy right really requires making sure you get the expertise of the folks that have been down in the trenches."



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