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Why Sen. Mitch McConnell Is Going to Force a Vote on the Green New Deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to hold a vote on the Green New Deal—but not because the Republican wants it to pass.

The joint resolution by Democrats was proposed last week by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. They’ve offered a non-binding resolution intended to set the tone for legislation addressing climate change and economic inequality. It includes a range of goals such as a shift to renewable energy sources, carbon neutrality by 2030, and a federal jobs guarantee.

McConnell’s scheduling a vote is strategic, intended to leverage a lack of Democratic unity behind the Green New Deal as a means to tackle climate change.

A number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are co-sponsors of the bill including senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The bill has 67 co-sponsors in the House, where Democrats are in the majority, and 11 in the Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats.

McConnell announced during a news conference Tuesday that the vote would “give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.”

With the 2020 election already underway, however, a vote will force Democratic members of the Senate to make a political calculation to determine whether or not they will support the bill. It’s a move that McConnell and the Republican Party could later exploit, pitting Democrats on either side of the issue against each other.

But Ocasio-Cortez is not deterred. In a statement to CNBC, her office said, “McConnell thinks he can end all debate on the Green New Deal now and stop this freight train of momentum. Unfortunately for Mitch, all he’s going to do is show just how out of touch Republican politicians are with the American people.”