Ed Markey, Green New Deal cosponsors vote to ban own plan to overhaul U.S. energy sector, economy

Democrats decry Republican amendment to "prohibit enactment of the Green New Deal" as "sham," look to pass "largest investment in climate action in history" in $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

Updated: August 13, 2021 - 11:35am

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Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and other cosponsors of the Green New Deal voted this week to prohibit adoption of their own plan — while criticizing Senate Republicans for proposing a "sham" amendment to the budget reconciliation bill.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming proposed an amendment to the Democrats' $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to "prohibit enactment of the Green New Deal." The measure passed 99-0, with yes votes from every U.S. senator present.

Despite voting in favor of the amendment, Democratic senators said their $3.5 trillion reconciliation legislation will make the "largest investment in climate action in history."

"The Green New Deal is not about protecting the environment, it's about making big government even bigger," Barrasso said on the Senate floor.

Following the vote, Green New Deal cosponsors — including Sens. Markey, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — slammed Republicans for a "bad-faith amendment meant to politicize climate action right when we need it most."

"This cynical, sham vote comes on the precipice of our country's largest investment in climate action in history, and on the heels of yesterday's IPCC report that unequivocally stated that the human-driven climate crisis is destroying our planet,” the senators said in a joint statement. "The budget reconciliation package will allow us to unleash millions of good-paying, union jobs in wind, solar, and clean energy technologies — good policies with broad public support. It will give workers power, and it will be paid for by the corporations — including Big Oil — who have polluted our planet for generations." 

Despite joining in the unanimous vote to prohibit the enactment of their Green New Deal, the senators maintained that their centralized plan for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. energy industry and economy has found popular favor.

"Senate Republicans clearly do not believe climate change is an existential threat to humankind, but they know that the goals of the Green New Deal are an existential threat to Big Oil and their corporate polluter allies," they wrote. "The power of the Green New Deal has struck a chord in this country — Americans see how a Green New Deal can transform our economy and democracy to address climate change. This amendment is a tired and failed Republican attempt to throw speed bumps on the road to climate action." 

Markey has said that "without question" the Green New Deal is in the DNA of the budget reconciliation bill.

As part of reconciliation, Democrats have proposed many green initiatives, including creating a Civilian Climate Corps, spending $174 billion on electric vehicles, and allocating $213 billion to "build, preserve, and retrofit more than 2 million homes and commercial buildings; modernize our nation's schools, community colleges, and early learning facilities; and upgrade veterans' hospitals and federal buildings." 

Using budget reconciliation allows Democrats in the 50-50 Senate to pass their budget without votes from Republicans with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.