Markey leery of McConnell move on Green New Deal

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.

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.

–ANDY METZGER


BEACON HILL

Joan Vennochi applauds Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to rein in MassHealth drug spending by pushing for lower prices from pharmaceutical companies. (Boston Globe)

The Eagle-Tribune puts its support behind legislation that would place limits on the use of facial recognition technology by state agencies.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

It was standing-room-only at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center on Wednesday night, as the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office reviewed its year-old partnership with US Customs and Immigration Enforcement. The crowd ranged from immigration activists to those wearing buttons proclaiming, “I love ICE.” (Cape Cod TImes)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh explains the evolution of his thinking on supervised injection sites, which he now seems to support. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Sen. Elizabeth Warren tapped longtime aide Roger Lau to direct her presidential campaign. (Boston Globe) For the lowdown on Lau, check out this January profile in CommonWealth that anticipated a big role for him in a Warren campaign.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Google confirms plans to expand in Kendall Square. (Boston Business Journal via MassLive)

EDUCATION

A federal judge seems skeptical of the plaintiffs’ case in a lawsuit alleging that Harvard admission policies discriminate against Asian-American applicants. (Boston Globe)

A charter school in Hadley requests the names and addresses of families with students in Amherst and Northampton as part of a marketing effort, but many of the families opt out of releasing their information. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Anne Douglass, an associate professor at UMass Boston, says the state must do more to boost the early education workforce. (CommonWealth)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The state Health Policy Commission won’t review Partners HealthCare’s proposed acquisition of Care New England Health System in Providence, saying the Rhode Island move is not likely to materially affect health care costs in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

The Sandwich Board of Selectmen have heard the repeated concerns of residents over a proposed medical marijuana dispensary. In Good Health Inc. is seeking a letter of support from the board, which declined to back the facility back in 2017. (Cape Cod Times)

Albert Hubbard of Worcester still has trouble accepting his healthy kidney was removed in error by his surgeon. (CommonWealth)

ARTS/CULTURE

A Berkshire Eagle editorial hails Thomas Krens and his vision of making the Berkshires the No. 1 cultural destination in the United States.

Beyond Walls, Lynn’s mural festival, is a finalist for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. (Daily Item)

Medford native Bianca Landrau’s star is on the rise in the hip hop world, where she goes by Bia. She will perform at the Middle East in Cambridge on Sunday. (WBUR)

TRANSPORTATION

Ari Ofsevit of TransitMatters says MassDOT’s plan for giving Silver Line buses access to a ramp to I-90 and Logan Airport is a poor excuse for a plan. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The California Public Utilities Commission approves a $50 million pilot program to replace propane and wood-burning appliances in 1,800 homes with equipment that mostly runs on electricity. The story doesn’t say, but the cost is presumably picked up by electric ratepayers. (Governing) The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities rejected a somewhat similar type program on the Cape recently. (CommonWealth)

Eversource is launching a battery storage project on Martha’s Vineyard. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Jurors should bring their personal experiences to the courtroom including thoughts about the legal system, Justice Kimberly Budd wrote in a Supreme Judicial Court opinion issued on Wednesday. (WBUR News)

One year later, there are way more questions than answers about the fatal shooting of a 43-year-old auto mechanic by a Reading police officer. (Boston Globe)

Suspended Massachusetts State Police Trooper Heath McAuliffe is pleading guilty in connection with the ongoing investigation into overtime abuse at the MSP. The Hopkinton resident said he embezzled 5.4 percent of the total overtime pay he received in 2015 and 2016, which was $144,404. (Brockton Enterprise)

Vanessa Tyson, who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Justin Fairfax, who is now lieutenant governor of Virginia, at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, will meet with prosecutors from the Suffolk district attorney’s office. (Boston Globe)

Greater Boston Legal Services is offering help to people seeking to expunge their criminal records in the hope that they will have greater success landing a job. (Dorchester Reporter)

MEDIA

John Block, the publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, takes “hostile work environment” to a new level in an unhinged late-night tirade in the paper’s newsroom. (Washington Post) Members of the Newspaper Guild who were in the newsroom during the incident release eyewitness accounts of what happened.

PASSINGS

Dave Vigneault, a political fixture in western Massachusetts, dies from pancreatic cancer. (Western Mass Politics & Insight)