Democrats have found a way of talking about — and even praising — the Green New Deal even after many on Capitol Hill have withheld support for it.
The method: Endorsing the enthusiasm it is generating.
The latest example of that rhetorical tact came Tuesday from former secretary of state John F. Kerry.
During testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee, Kerry suggested to lawmakers that while he may not agree with every facet of climate resolution from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who took Kerry’s Senate seat after Kerry joined President Barack Obama’s Cabinet in 2013, he likes the energy it created.
“We all have some differences with one piece of legislation or another,” Kerry told lawmakers. “But in proposing what she has proposed, together with Sen. Markey, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has in fact offered more leadership in one day or in one week than President Trump has in his lifetime on this subject.”
Since the resolution calling on the United States to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions was introduced in February, congressional Democrats have tried to show a unified front regarding the Green New Deal in the face of an onslaught of criticism from Republicans seeking to cast it as a socialist fantasy.
And this attempt continues even after the resolution was defeated in the Senate — and Democrats did not formally back it in the March vote.
The top Senate Democrat, Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), rallied his caucus to vote “present” for what he derided as a “sham” vote held by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
And it's a sentiment that's been around since even before Ocasio-Cortez and Markey rolled out their resolution. Back in February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “I haven’t seen it, but I do know that it’s enthusiastic and we welcome all the enthusiasms that are out there.” That was her way of walking back a dismissive comment published earlier that day in Politico calling the proposal “the green dream or whatever.”
And other Democrats said it was clear that the Green New Deal would spark substantial debate across the country about how to curb climate-warming emissions and its effects. “I appreciate the consciousness that they've raised among Americans coast to coast,” Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), chair of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on climate change and the environment, told Roll Call that month.
Yet Republicans have alleged the resolution, which is nonbinding, means its backers intend to ban meat and airplanes. The text of the resolution mentions neither.
The bashing continued during Tuesday’s hearing. “The Green New Deal’s not new, but it is devastating,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, encouraging lawmakers to read a Green New Deal fact sheet published but later retracted by Ocasio-Cortez’s office.
Ocasio-Cortez, herself a member of the Oversight panel, asked her colleagues to read the nonbinding document itself.
“We don’t need CliffsNotes for a 14-page resolution that was designed to be read in plain English by the American people,” she said. “So I would encourage my colleagues to actually read the resolution presented, so that they can speak to it responsibly and respectfully.”
She added later on Twitter that she was “humbled” by Kerry's remark:
Sec. John Kerry: “Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has in fact offered more leadership in one day or in one week than President Trump has in his lifetime on [climate]."— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 9, 2019
Honored and humbled.
Thank you, @JohnKerry. https://t.co/Z2jPDMbuR1
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