Senate Republicans are preparing a 'bluff-vote' on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal - and Democrats are furious at the move

UNITED STATES - MARCH 12: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., conduct a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

  • The Senate will vote on the Green New Deal later this week.
  • The decision to hold a vote was made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • Republicans say the vote will provide Democrats an "opportunity to go on the record" about what they think will be a key campaign issue in 2020.
  • Democrats who support the Green New Deal have panned the vote as a political stunt.

WASHINGTON - The Senate is slated to vote on the controversial "Green New Deal" bill this week, a move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Democrats are panning as an unserious political ploy.

McConnell largely controls what legislation makes it to the floor, which makes his decision to bring Democratic base's flagship piece of legislation up for a vote particularly enraging to Democrats.

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez replaces Nancy Pelosi as Republicans' new boogeyman for 2020

McConnell has characterized it as an "opportunity to go on the record" to see where Democrats stand on the nonbinding resolution that lays out a staggering plan to fundamentally transform large swathes of the US economy.

In addition, groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) - the Senate GOP's official campaign arm - will be able to use the results of the vote to attack Democratic incumbents they are targeting in the upcoming 2020 elections.

It is part of a broader strategy designed to paint socialism as the big new threat to the country, departing from years of using House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama as the chief boogymen.

As Congressional Leadership Fund Vice President Zach Hunter told INSIDER in February, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the new leader of the Democratic Party and already pushing a radical agenda that is outrageously far outside the mainstream for most Americans. Vulnerable Democrats will have to answer for her extreme policies every day between now and Election Day in 2020."

However, the choice to actually hold a vote on the Green New Deal is not at all pleasing Democrats.

"The GOP's whole game of wasting votes in Congress to target others 'on the record,' for leg they have no intent to pass, is a disgrace," Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York wrote on Twitter. "Stop wasting the American peoples' time + learn to govern. Our jobs aren't for campaigning, & that's exactly what these bluff-votes are for."

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, the Senate Democrat pushing for the Green New Deal, dismissed the seriousness of McConnell's vote on the bill.

"They are calling this vote without any hearings, without any expert testimony, without any true discussion about the cost of climate inaction and the massive potential for clean energy job creation," Markey said according to the Lowell Sun.

"It's just a political stunt by Mitch McConnell to play games with an existential threat to the planet," Markey added Monday. "We're going to stand together on the process in order to ensure that we have hearings on the substance of climate change, which they refuse to have."

A handful of the cosponsors in the Senate are also 2020 presidential candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, like Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris. How they vote could conflict with their actual positions on the bill, as Democrats are expected to vote 'present' in protest.

Still, the vote will be the first of its kind on the Green New Deal, as the Democratic-controlled House has yet to move forward on the landmark legislation.

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