House Democrats rolled out a climate agenda Tuesday as their caucus attempts to draw a distinction between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s approach to tackling global warming and a more moderate plan.
Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee announced they would pursue legislation calling for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a far less ambitious plan than the ill-fated Green New Deal, which initially called for a complete fossil fuel phase-out. Democrats dinged Ocasio-Cortez’s idea during the roll-out.
“The majority of the Democratic caucus is behind aggressive but not socialist climate policies,” Paul Bledsoe, who advised President Bill Clinton on climate issues, told reporters shortly after the announcement. “They worry the Green New Deal rhetoric could alienate rather than attract swing voters needed in 2020.”
“The climate crisis is here, and it requires serious federal leadership that’s up for the challenge,” Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey told reporters. Reps. Paul Tonko, head of the Environment and Climate Change subcommitee, and Bobby Rush of Illinois, head of the Energy subcommittee joined Pallone in the press conference. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t attend.
The GND, as it has come to be known, sought for a “10-year national mobilization” to shift the country to 100% “zero-emission energy sources” — a lofty mission given that fossil fuels account for more than 80% of U.S. energy consumption in 2018.
Ocasio-Cortez’s brainchild was torpedoed in the Senate in March after Republicans voted en masse against the resolution while Democrats voted present.
A select number of Democratic presidential candidates voiced support for the measure. Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey, who both announced their bids for the 2020 nomination, for instance, signed on as Senate co-sponsors of the proposal.
Tuesday’s proposal also comes as President Donald Trump attempts to associate moderate House Democrats with left-wing members of the caucus. Some House Democrats believe they played right into the president’s hands after they voted on a July 17 resolution condemning Trump’s tweets targeting Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
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