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Green New Deal Fails in Senate, 57 to 0

By Rachel S.

After gaining media attention worldwide and spurring much debate, the Green New Deal was taken to a vote in the Senate on Tuesday, March 26. The plan for environmental reform, introduced in November by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, has been dubbed “a destructive socialist daydream” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Although most spectators expected it to fall short of the 60 votes needed to pass, they also assumed the plan would receive support from the 43 Democrats present. Surprisingly, even consideration of the Green New Deal was lost when it was vetoed 57 to 0.

While support for anti-climate-change measures was once thought to be divided by political party, both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have now shunned it as unreasonable, absurd, and overly expensive. One possible explanation is politics. The New York Times reported that as the 2020 elections draw closer, candidates in the Senate of both parties are watching where they step. This is perhaps one reason why progressive leaders including the co-founder of the Green New Deal movement himself, Senator Ed Markey, refused to take a stand against climate change on March 26.

Senator Ed Markey announcing the Green New Deal with Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in February. Markey voted "present" in Senate's recent vote on the bill. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGE)

According to Vox, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have initiated the vote to divide the Democratic party on the bill. Wanting to thwart McConnell’s plan may have been another reason why most Democratic Senators boycotted the vote (voting “present”) and the few that didn’t voted against it. Climate activist Varshini Prakash claims that Democrats succeeded in this regard: “Mitch McConnell bet big that today’s vote would fracture the Democratic caucus, [and] he bet wrong.”

Democratic politicians instead have said they support more moderate and grounded efforts against climate change. Some of these include a proposed special committee on climate change and the Climate Action Now Act, put forward on March 27 by a group of representatives including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Many view the Act as a more moderate response to the Green New Deal. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrat Brian Schatz of Hawaii plan to announce the new Senate committee as well soon.

Contrary to the Senate’s vote, polling has shown much public support for the Green New Deal. According to the Huffington Post, a majority of both Republicans and Democrats supported the measure—81% of all respondents in the combined Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University poll “somewhat supported” or “strongly supported” the bill. If one thing was made clear by the Senate’s overwhelming rejection of the Green New Deal in spite of public support, it is that a rift continues to isolate climate supporters of both political parties from their elected leaders.

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