Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is putting his party on the record: They're not interested in saving the planet.
Scientists are sounding increasingly dire warnings that climate change will drown coastal cities and threaten human civilization if we don't act fast — but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would rather waste time with symbolic votes than take any action to save the planet.
Earlier this week, McConnell gleefully announced the Senate will hold a vote on the Green New Deal, a package of economic and environmental justice proposals spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
"I've noted with interest the Green New Deal," McConnell said Tuesday. "We're going to be voting on that in the Senate; it will give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal."
McConnell's goal is not to pass the bill, NPR notes, but rather to use it as a political weapon to force Democrats to cast a vote on the ambitious plan.
However, it will also put Republican senators on record as opposing any attempts to address the very serious and growing threat of climate change and save the planet for future generations before it's too late. A recent report from the United Nations warned that we have only 12 years to act on global warming to prevent major global catastrophes.
That's in addition to other warnings that glaciers in Antarctica could soon collapse and cause sea levels to rise by two feet. That's enough to "inundate coastal cities across the globe," reports NBC News.
"Globally, as many as 650 million people live on land that will be submerged or exposed to chronic flooding" in the next 80 years if nothing changes, Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, told NBC News in May 2018. And nothing is exactly what McConnell intends to do.
Playing political games on such an important issue did not sit well with Markey, who lambasted Republicans for their stance.
"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 told NPR. McConnell's lack of seriousness is evident in the fact that there will be no committee hearings, expert testimony, or any sort of debate on the merits of the issue, Markey added.
The Green New Deal is a 10-year plan to put the United Staes on the path to eliminate carbon emissions, move to using 100 percent renewable energy, upgrade buildings to make them more energy efficient, and invest in high-speed rail to eliminate the need for air travel.
Rather than engage on the real issues, Republicans are lying about what is contained in the framework, accusing Democrats of ridiculous ideas like banning hamburgers.
Contrary to McConnell's mocking tone, recent polls show quite a bit of support for the Green New Deal, especially among younger voters and millennials.
In pushing for a symbolic vote, McConnell is once again flip-flopping on his stance against such votes. During the 35-day Trump shutdown, McConnell refused for weeks to allow a vote to reopen the government. He said holding votes on bills Trump had threatened to veto was "absolutely pointless," ignoring the fact that Congress could of course override a veto.
While McConnell held the paychecks of federal workers hostage, he was willing to force a symbolic anti-abortion vote on a bill that had no chance of passing. Now it seems he is willing to play games with the environment instead of working to find solutions.
"The only policy that unites Republicans is opposing Democrats, which is to say they functionally lack a policy platform," Josh Huder, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, said in response to McConnell's decision to hold a vote on the Green New Deal.
If McConnell has his way, and nothing is done to address climate change, a child born today will see cities in America and across the globe drown during their lifetime. But rather than work to stop that from happening, McConnell is choosing a path of political polarization and gamesmanship.
Published with permission of The American Independent.