Democrats Formally Call for a Green New Deal, Giving Substance to a Rallying Cry
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WASHINGTON — House Democrats put flesh on their bold “Green New Deal” slogan on Thursday with a sweeping resolution that calls for the United States to pump no additional carbon into the atmosphere by 2030 while creating jobs and health care for millions of people.
The legislative prospects for the measure were bleak in the foreseeable future; a resolution is essentially a statement of intention, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has no plan to bring it to the floor for a vote, according to a Democratic leadership aide with direct knowledge of her plans.
Ms. Pelosi countered with a move of her own on Thursday, naming the Democrats who will lead a new special select committee on climate change — and leaving off the chief architect of the Green New Deal, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Still, the measure, drafted by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, gives shape and substance to an idea that, until now, had been a vague rallying cry for a grand stimulus package around climate change.
The proposal does not set a date for eliminating fossil fuels. It does call for generating 100 percent of electricity through renewable sources like wind and solar in the next 10 years, eliminating greenhouse emissions in manufacturing and forestry “as much as is technologically feasible,” and re-engineering cars and trucks to end climate pollution.
The measure also includes social justice goals not usually attached to antipollution plans, like eradicating poverty by creating high-paid jobs.
But the resolution goes far beyond that, touching on themes that are animating a rising left but that rarely reach the halls of Congress. It aims to “promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”
Sixty members of the House and nine senators are co-sponsoring the resolution, including several presidential candidates, according to a fact sheet provided by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s office. There is no mention of costs or how to pay for the proposed changes.
Ms. Pelosi has been decidedly cool to the proposal, but not the movement behind it.
“Frankly, I haven’t seen it,” the speaker told reporters when asked about the Green New Deal during her weekly news conference at the Capitol on Thursday. “But I do know it is enthusiastic, and we welcome all the enthusiasm that is out there.”
People close to Ms. Pelosi said she is wary of moving too quickly, mindful of her own past mistakes. A decade ago she pushed the last major climate change measure hard, an ambitious bill to cap emissions of climate-warming pollution, then allow industries to trade emissions credits on a pollution credit market. Through force of will, she got the cap-and-trade measure through the House, only to see it die in the Senate without a vote. The next year, Democrats were swept from power.
In that Congress, she had a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, Barack Obama. This time, she has a president who calls climate change a hoax and a Senate in the control of Mitch McConnell, a Republican from the coal state of Kentucky.
On Friday, Ms. Pelosi was intent on letting her critics on the left know about her own efforts under Presidents Bush and Obama, adding that she had made climate change “her flagship issue” of her first speakership, and boasting that her legislation was “one of the biggest energy bills” in history.
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Lisa Friedman reports on climate and environmental policy in Washington. A former editor at Climatewire, she has covered nine international climate talks. @LFFriedman
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