Markey leery of McConnell move on Green New Deal

Mass. Democrat calls voting on the proposal an act of ‘sabotage’

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER Mitch McConnell wants to turn the Green New Deal into a new green wedge, and that has rankled US Sen. Ed Markey, a co-sponsor of the policy idea.

The so-called GND has become a plank in the platform of several Democrats, including presidential contenders, but Republicans see an opening to create divisions between elected members of the party and the voters.

McConnell promised a vote in the Senate, but, as outlined by the Boston Globe, Markey sees that as a ploy to circumvent the usual committee process and put senators on record without giving the bill a public airing that could garner more support.

“I’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal,” McConnell said Tuesday about the legislative package that has significant but not overwhelming support in Congress.

McConnell wants to bring the bill to a vote to kill it, and Markey said his procedural move is an attempt at “sabotage” and an indication that Republicans “don’t want to debate climate change” and don’t have any plans to address the important challenges that climate change will pose.

McConnell spokesman Scott Sloofman had a ready rejoinder for Markey’s objections.

“The leader is giving his far-left, pie-in-the-sky proposal a vote in the United States Senate. If that qualifies as ‘sabotage’ to him, perhaps that speaks more to the ridiculousness of his resolution than to any action by the leader,” Sloofman said.

Joe Battenfeld ridiculed Markey for favoring the GND “except when it comes to voting for it.” He already looked like a potential sleeper in the Democratic race, but Sen. Sherrod Brown’s stock may rise even more over the Green New Deal tempest, as he’s the only declared or would-be candidate in the Democratic presidential field from the Senate who did not cosponsor the measure.

As it stands now, the Green New Deal is “more a list of ideas and ideals than an actual proposal,” according to CNN. There are several ambitious goals that could be disruptive to entrenched industries and consumers alike. For instance, it calls for switching all of the nation’s power supply to “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” upgrading “all existing buildings” in the country for maximum energy efficiency, and eliminating pollution from the transportation sector as much “as is technologically feasible.”

The Green New Deal also veers out of the environmental terrain, “guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States,” which would be an expensive endeavor and a novel responsibility for the federal government.

Bill Scher at Real Clear Politics found the rollout of the package lacking, noted that it could divide the Democratic caucus, and said it is not surprising that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has given it a lukewarm reception.

To supporters of the idea, an incredible effort is required to staunch the death and destruction wrought by global warming. Only last October, climate scientists at the United Nations predicted calamity and said the looming disaster requires a transformation that has “no documented historic precedent.”

A survey by Yale University in December, when the Green New Deal was even more hazily defined, found strong bipartisan support for the goals of the idea.  The co-sponsor of the proposal in the House is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most high-profile members of the new class of representatives. Gov. Charlie Baker has bucked others in the Republican party by asking Congress for greater efforts to combat climate change.

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

Meanwhile, McConnell could face some political division at home in Kentucky, where his popularity has been lagging. Politico reported this week that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants Amy McGrath to challenge McConnell in next year’s election. McGrath, a fighter pilot, failed in a bid to unseat Congressman Andy Barr last year, but generated a lot of national interest in her campaign.

The political forces buttressing Markey, who is also up for re-election next year, and others in Congress could have a profound effect on to what extent the US government mobilizes to take on the existential threats posed by climate change.