House Republicans are hoping to force a vote on the Green New Deal to put House Democrats on the record as to whether they support the sweeping and controversial proposal, though it’s not clear the effort will gain traction as Democrats are expected to dismiss it as a political stunt.
House GOP Whip Steve Scalise said at a news conference Wednesday where House Republicans announced their plan that it’s important to “contrast” the kind of energy policy that their party supports with “what Nancy Pelosi and her radical leftists are trying to do.”
The concept of a Green New Deal has been championed by progressive party rising stars like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and embraced by Democratic 2020 contenders. But the Green New Deal, which calls for a national mobilization of resources to tackle global warming, hasn’t been universally embraced by congressional Democrats, though the party is broadly united in calling for action to fight climate change.
Pushing for a vote gives House Republicans an opportunity to put a spotlight on a proposal that they believe divides Democrats.
Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia plans to file a discharge petition in an attempt to bring the Green New Deal resolution to the House floor for a vote. A discharge petition is a procedural tool that can be used to force a floor vote, but only if a majority of House members sign on in support.
Discharge petitions rarely succeed because of how high threshold is to clear. Even if every House Republican signs on in support, roughly 20 House Democrats would still need to sign on in order to force the vote.
“The American people need to know where their representatives stand on this radical proposal, the Green New Deal,” Hice said. “Make no mistake about it, regardless of what supporters say, it is a radical proposal that will dramatically take American society further to the left. And I want a vote on it.”
The Georgia Republican added that he hopes there will be enough support from Democrats to force a vote.
“The message to my socialist, Democrat colleagues is very simple: we’re looking for at least 20 of them … we want them to join with Republicans for the sake of a recorded vote on the Green New Deal,” he said.
That appears improbable, however, especially if House Democrats put up a show of unity like most Senate Democrats did when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought the Green New Deal up for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday.
The overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats voted “present,” in protest over the vote, which they argued was only intended as a political attack on the nascent proposal.
Hice said on Wednesday that he will file the discharge petition sometime after Easter.
The congressman tentatively plans to file the motion on the House floor in late April, a GOP aide familiar with the discussions told CNN. Once that happens, the congressman will be able to start gathering signatures for the petition, according to the aide. The aide added that Hice is currently “actively working to garner support among his colleagues,” for the petition.
CNN has reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s office to request comment.
The freshman Democrat on Tuesday criticized McConnell’s decision to bring the Green New Deal to a vote in the Senate and tweeted that she “encouraged” Senate Democrats to vote “present.”
Republicans have been quick to seize on the fact that Senate Democrats did not vote to advance the measure, casting it as a sign that Democrats are unwilling to stand behind the proposal. Senate Republicans were united in voting “no” out of objection to the far-reaching plan, which McConnell has labeled “a socialist makeover of the entire US economy.”
In response to a tweet from Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming asking, “Why did Senate Democrats just duck a vote,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “Because I encouraged them to vote present, along w/ others. McConnell tried to rush the #GreenNewDeal straight to the floor without a hearing.”
Ocasio-Cortez added, “The real question we should be asking: Why does the Senate GOP refuse to hold any major hearings on climate change?”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said that she welcomes the enthusiasm behind the Green New Deal, but she has described it as one of many proposals that will be looked at by committees.
At the start of the new Congress, Pelosi set up a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that’s expected to come up with recommendations for new legislation. In one sign of the efforts Democrats are making to push for climate action, Pelosi along with other House Democrats, unveiled a bill Wednesday that aims to push the United States to uphold the Paris climate agreement.