Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled a floor vote on the Green New Deal resolution for the week of March 24. Democrats were caught off guard when Senator McConnell said in February that he wanted to have a vote on the resolution and have been trying to figure out what to do ever since. It appears that they have now settled on a strategy: They or nearly all of them will vote “present.” This includes the sponsor of Senate Resolution 59, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), and its eleven co-sponsors. Six of the co-sponsors are running for president.
Editor's Note: The vote was held Tuesday. Three Democrats voted against the Green New Deal, while the rest voted present.
Sen. Markey called the vote “nothing but an attempt to sabotage the movement we are building” in a tweet immediately after McConnell first said he wanted to have a vote. A March 22 Washington Post story by Dino Grandoni quotes Markey’s reasoning at length:
Democrats will not allow Leader McConnell and Republicans to make a mockery of the debate in the Senate on climate change. This vote is a sham and little more than a political ploy to protect vulnerable Republicans from having to defend their climate science denial.
As Grandoni notes, it is not unprecedented for senators to be unwilling to vote for legislation that they are sponsoring. But it is odd. And it’s not exactly heroic to be unwilling to stand up and vote for what you claim to believe in. What’s the worst that could happen? Being defeated for re-election? Nor is it clear why allowing an open floor debate in the “world’s greatest deliberative body” on the most ambitious energy-rationing legislation ever introduced is sabotage, or a mockery, or a sham. On the other hand, having a vote is indeed a political ploy. Another undoubted political ploy was introducing the Green New Deal. It should be fun watching to find out whose political ploy turns out to be more effective.