The Green New Deal, Democrats' aspirational proposal to confront climate change and address social justice, died Tuesday in the Senate.
And Democrats helped slay it.
No senator voted for it; 57 (including all Republicans and a handful of Democrats) voted against it; and the remaining 43 (all Democrats) voted "present" as a protest.
The votewas on a procedural matter to continue debate on the bill crafted by liberal firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At least 60 votes were needed to keep the bill moving, meaning the legislation is dead – for now.
Congressional Democrats viewed the effort by Republicans – who ridicule the plan as socialist fantasy – to bring the ambitious plan to the floor as little more than a political ploy to divide Democratsrather than a serious effort to confront an impending planetary crisis.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called it a "sham" hours before the roll call vote.
Democrats had asked the Republican leadership to schedule hearings with experts and build broad support for a bipartisan solution before going straight to the floor. Republicans demurred.
"Climate change is not a joke," said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal with Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. "Mocking it and comparing it to cartoon characters while the Midwest is flooded and people have died because of climate-related extreme weather is shameful."
The Democrats' retreat is likely to give GOP opponents ammunition to accuse Democrats of saying one thing and doing another, a point Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made.
"If you believe the Green New Deal is the prescription for America, why would you not want to vote on it?" he said on Capitol Hill before the vote.
McConnell has said he wants to get Senate Democrats – several of whom are running for president in 2020 – "on record" about the Green New Deal. President Donald Trump, a skeptic of human-caused climate change, has poked fun at the proposal, saying"when the wind stops blowing, it's the end of your electric."
Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso, who chairs the Committee on the Environment and Public Works, noted that every Democratic senator running for president has co-sponsored the Green New Deal.
Spurred bygovernment reports warning of drastic consequences of climate change, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey unveiled the proposal in February.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, right, announce the Green New Deal legislation on Feb. 7, 2019.
It calls not only for combating climate change by eliminating carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels and shifting the economy to one powered by renewable fuels but also prescribes a broad platform supporting free housing, medical coverage and higher education for all Americans.
GOP senators ridicule the plan because the Green New Deal'soriginal talking points called for even further-reaching goals: a build-out of high-speed rail that would make carbon-emitting airplane travel obsolete; an end to dependence of nuclear power as well as fossil fuels; and the creation of "a sustainable, pollution and greenhouse gas free, food system" that would no longer rely on "farting cows."
"Basically, the Green New Deal is an assault on cows, cars and combustion," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said on the Senate floor Monday. "With nuclear power available, its strategy for fighting climate change with windmills makes as much sense as going to war in sailboats."
Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the debate is no laughing matter.
"This is not a time for derision. This is not a time for division," Carper said on the Senate floor Monday. "On an issue as serious as this, we ought to be serious about addressing it."
Although Democrats are united in wanting to aggressively address climate change, party lawmakers have been divided over whether the Green New Deal is the best approach. A number of moderate Democrats have distanced themselves from the parts of the measure that go beyond ways of confronting global warming.
Even though Democrats control the House, there are no immediate plans to bring the proposal to the floor for a vote.