In an effort to thwart Republicans' efforts to frame disagreements over the Green New Deal as signs of division within the Democratic Party, all 47 Senate Democrats introduced a climate change resolution calling for immediate action on Thursday. The resolution seeks to unify the party around a common piece of legislation that both acknowledges the climate change crisis and the need to take action to address climate change issues despite disagreements over the Green New Deal. But while the resolution urges action, it appears to be more of a symbolic gesture than a plan.
While the resolution's full text isn't available online just yet, The Hill has reported that it's a concise 43 words. "Climate change is real, human activity during the last century is the dominant cause of the climate crisis; and the United States and Congress should take immediate action to address the challenge of climate change," the news outlet reported S.J.Res.9 reads in its entirety.
The resolution does not go on to attempt to outline what action should be taken. Rather, in a letter to their Republican colleagues, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the resolution's main sponsor, ranking Senate Energy and Public Works Committee member Sen. Tom Carper, characterized it as an attempt to put the Senate, and ultimately, Congress, on the record regarding the reality of climate change.
"Large majorities of the American people believe climate change is a serious problem and want their leaders to take action. Doing so, however, means agreeing on some basic things contained in S.J. Res.9," the letter reads. "The scientific consensus about climate change should no longer be an open question in the Republican-controlled Senate."
The resolution doesn't mention cutting carbon emissions, advancing renewable energy use, nor any other specific climate change regulations like those outlined in the Green New Deal. However, according to The Hill, Senate Democrats are hoping it curtails Republicans' efforts to derail legislative action on climate change by fast-tracking a vote on the Green New Deal, which many Democrats remain divided over.
According to CNN, fast-tracking votes is a tactic Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used before to "put vulnerable opponents on the record supporting or opposing controversial policies." It's likely the GOP leader hoped the vote would put Democrats' divide into the spotlight going into the 2020 election. Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, who worked to craft the Green New Deal with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has accused McConnell of attempting to "sabotage" his legislation with a fast-tracked vote. "They have offered no plan to address this economic and national security threat and want to sabotage any effort that makes Big Oil and corporate polluters pay," Markey said, per NPR.
Senate Democrats had — despite their disagreements — agreed to present a unified front by voting "present" on the Green New Deal if McConnell called a vote, The Hill has reported. S.J. Res.9, however, could allow Democrats to appear united on the need for immediate climate change action while still remaining divided over the details of the Green New Deal and its potential cost.
But S.J. Res.9 isn't the only Green New Deal alternative set to be tossed around by Senate Democrats. Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently revealed she plans to introduce her own alternative legislation for addressing climate. A draft of that bill was reportedly mistakenly released last week after a group of children confronted Feinstein about her unwillingness to support the Green New Deal.
Amid proposals touting Green New Deal alternatives, Ocasio-Cortez has warned against "climate delayers," those who acknowledge the need for climate change action but appear oblivious to the urgency needed. "Climate delayers aren't much better than climate deniers," the Green New Deal's primary House sponsor tweeted earlier in the week. "With either one if they get their way, we're toast."