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Republican leader says Senate will vote on Green New Deal

Reuters logo Reuters 2/12/2019
Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after a Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington © Reuters/JOSHUA ROBERTS Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after a Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the U.S. Senate will vote on a "Green New Deal" introduced by Democrats that aims to slash U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to negligible levels in a decade.

"I've noted with great interest the Green New Deal, and we're going to be voting on that in the Senate, give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal," McConnell said.

The document introduced last week marked the first formal attempt by lawmakers to define legislation to create big government-led investments in clean energy, infrastructure and social programs. The goal is to transition the U.S. economy away from burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gasses blamed for climate change, rising sea levels and severe storms.

The initiative was unveiled by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising political star, and Senator Edward Markey. The initiative has the backing of almost all the Democrats who have declared they are running in the 2020 presidential election.

Republicans have used the Green New Deal to paint the rival party as shifting to the left and embracing extreme policies.

"It's...interesting to watch all of these Democrat presidential candidates rubber-stamp this Green New Deal, which raises taxes, that overthrows really a productive energy market that we have right now in this country, raises energy costs, forces people out of work who are working in the energy field," said Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso, chair of the Senate environment committee, saying the plan is "way out of the mainstream of the American public."

President Donald Trump's administration opposes action on climate change and is focused on increasing production of oil, gas and coal on federal and private land.

Trump poked fun at the Green New Deal at his campaign rally in El Paso, Texas on Monday night, making exaggerated claims that the policy platform would force people to give up air travel and owning cows, a source of methane emissions.

"I really don't like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of 'let's hop a train to California,' of you're not allowed to own cows anymore!" Trump said at the rally.

The plan outlines some of the most aggressive climate goals ever put forward by Democratic lawmakers and clashes dramatically with the Trump administration's efforts to advance domestic oil, gas and coal production by rolling back environmental protections.

"The first question Republicans should answer is what is their answer on climate change, what are they going to put forward," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.

The name, Green New Deal, references the New Deal of the 1930s that President Franklin Roosevelt implemented to aid Americans suffering in the Great Depression by embarking on huge government-led infrastructure projects.


(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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