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2020 Dems Vote 'Present' on Green New Deal

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted on the Green New Deal, with 43 Democrat-aligned senators voting "present" and four Democrat-aligned senators voting against it. The measure failed, 0-57.

Every Democrat senator running for president — Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — voted "present," refusing to take a stance on the legislation most of them have endorsed in public.

Many of these candidates announced their support for a Green New Deal even while choosing to vote "present" on the bill sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

"Today's [Green New Deal] vote is a partisan stunt to side-step needed debate on climate action, and give Republicans cover to put oil lobby checks over our kids," Gillibrand tweeted. "I've come to expect nothing less from [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell]. I'll be voting 'present.' I don't play ball with bad-faith farces."

"Heading to the Senate floor to state a simple scientific fact: climate change is a global crisis, not a political game. Tune in to hear why I support a [Green New Deal] that will aggressively tackle climate change, economic inequality, and racial injustice," Warren tweeted.

"Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party don't believe we have to address climate change, the major crisis facing this planet. That is a disgrace. We need a Green New Deal that says we are going to boldly confront climate change and create millions of jobs in the process," Sanders tweeted, in response to the news that the Green New Deal had failed in the Senate.

"Senate Republicans are playing political games with climate change. We should not be wasting our time with fake votes & cynical stunts," Harris tweeted. "The Republican majority must stop denying science and finally admit that climate change is real. Time is not on our side."

Despite Gillibrand's declaration that the Green New Deal vote was a "bad-faith farce," MSNBC's Katy Tur called out Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) for refusing to put her money where her mouth is.

"I mean, McConnell may be trying to make it a show vote, but you signed on to this and you're one of the coauthors of it," Tur said. She asked Hirono, "If you believe this is something — even if it’s aspirational — that needs to get done, why not take a stand and vote yes for it?"

"It seems like you are trying to have it both ways, not be hung by it politically but also not say you don’t support it," Tur quipped.

Naturally, Hirono disagreed. "Why should we engage in the kind of sham shenanigans that Mitch McConnell is really good at?" She also claimed that McConnell has said that "his goal in life is to divide the Democrats."

McConnell did indeed bring the Green New Deal to a vote in order to expose the Democrats, but that is no reason to vote against the legislation if Democrats truly support it.

"Senate Democrats resort to crazy talk when they call the vote on the Green New Deal a ‘sham.’ Voting yea or nay on the record is the heart of the legislative process. The real sham is what 42 Senate Democrats and Bernie Sanders did—grandstanding for the Green New Deal to mobilize their radical base while colluding to hide their different viewpoints and levels of commitment by voting ‘present’ as a bloc," Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), said in a statement.

Rather than taking a true political risk and voting for the nonsense legislation and at least proving their sincerity, Democrats have decided to hedge their bets — praising the Green New Deal in public but refusing to stick their necks out for it.

This cowardly strategy satisfies no one. True believers in the Green New Deal should excoriate Democrats for caving, and Americans who know the legislation is ridiculous and a recipe for poverty and tyranny should also attack the Democrats for publicly supporting so horrific a proposal.

Finally, Americans who want sincerity and bravery in their president should take note. None of the six candidates in the Senate are sincere in their endorsements for legislation and none of them are brave enough to stand for what they claim to believe in.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.