Green New Deal Has 2020 Dems On Board, But Party Leaders Tread Lightly

While Democratic 2020 candidates have rushed to sign on to the Green New Deal, party leaders are extending a more cautious level of support to the landmark carbon-slashing infrastructure plan.

The six-page proposal that freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) formally unveiled Thursday outlines plans to cut global greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 and to reduce human-caused greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050.

In the lead-up to the unveiling, after months of calling for lawmakers to get on board, their plan received enthusiastic support from major candidates hoping to take down President Donald Trump in 2020. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have made strong statements endorsing the Green New Deal.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has had a more tempered response, emphasizing that there will be other resolutions on the table to consider. 

“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” she told Politico in an interview Wednesday. “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” she continued, which may have been a swipe more at 2020 candidates looking to score points than at the resolution itself. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (right) formally unveiled the Green New Deal, a landmark proposal to cu

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (right) formally unveiled the Green New Deal, a landmark proposal to cut carbon emissions in the U.S., in Washington on Feb. 7. But can they get Democratic leaders on board?

Speaking to reporters at her weekly news conference the next day, Pelosi said she still hadn’t viewed the finalized plan but was “excited” about it. “I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals,” she said. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) struck a similar tone. “I’m pleased that House Committees began holding hearings on climate change this week, and I look forward to bringing legislation to the House Floor to reduce carbon pollution, help our communities prepare for current and future climate risks, and create clean energy jobs,” he told HuffPost in an email. He also called out Republicans for ignoring climate change issues. 

Assistant House Speaker Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who is on a newly formed select committee on combating climate change, also stopped short of embracing the proposal. 

“Throughout my public service, I have both advocated for and enacted policies that follow the Green New Deal framework that was released this week,” he told HuffPost. “I appreciate the energy and focus of my colleagues and look forward to working with them to take action.” 

Spokespeople for House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) did not return requests for comment on the Green New Deal. 

Among the chairs of climate-adjacent House panels, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) of the Natural Resources Committee is the only one to explicitly support the resolution, calling it “the right framework for the work we need to do, in Congress and across the nation, to reduce our fossil fuel use, create green jobs, and protect our country and our planet for the long term.”

As for the Senate, none of the party’s leaders have given their support to the Green New Deal or replied to inquiries about it. 

Among the ranking members of its climate-related committees, none have announced their full support. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) of the Environment and Public Works Committee sounds the most optimistic so far. 

“I’m grateful for Senator Markey’s passion and strong voice on these issues,” he said in a statement Thursday. “He’s introduced this Green New Deal resolution to start a conversation and articulate a vision. I encourage members of our committee to examine the Green New Deal resolution and consider the ways in which we may be able to incorporate its ideas within our work this Congress.” 

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