Democrats Spend Climate Change Hearing Avoiding Talking About The Green New Deal

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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  • House Democrats spent much of a climate change hearing distancing themselves from the Green New Deal.
  • Republicans pressed their Democratic colleagues to discuss the Green New Deal, which has been backed by presidential candidates.
  • “That’s why it should be a topic of conversation for this committee,” one GOP lawmaker said.

Democrats spent time during a House Committee on the Budget hearing on climate change distancing themselves from, and avoiding discussions about, the Green New Deal.

“I know Republicans put out notices that we were going to have a hearing on the Green New Deal,” Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, the committee’s top Democrat and chairman, said during Tuesday’s hearing. “There are 11 committees that have jurisdiction over that piece of legislation, we’re not one of them.”

“As I said, this hearing is about the economic impact of climate change,” Yarmuth said after calling global warming a “topic we cannot afford to ignore” that’s “increasingly an economic and fiscal issue.”

Ohio GOP Rep. Bill Johnson shot back that a climate change hearing would be incomplete without addressing the Green New Deal, which is cosponsored by 93 House Democrats and endorsed by presidential candidates. (RELATED: Mike Bloomberg Reignited The War On Coal. West Virginia Isn’t Going Down Without A Fight)

“Mr. Chairman, how can we have a discussion, a serious discussion, on climate change on this committee without addressing the primary plank of the platform that you and your colleagues have offered, the Green New Deal, to resolve climate change?” Johnson asked Yarmuth.

U.S. Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey hold a news conference for their proposed "Green New Deal" at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey hold a news conference for their proposed “Green New Deal” to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. Feb. 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Yarmuth responded that the Green New Deal didn’t have a majority of Democratic support and that “there are hundreds of proposals to deal with climate change” that ought to be considered.

“We ought to start by agreeing that there is a problem here and we need to act responsibly as a Congress to address it,” Yarmuth said.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, both Democrats, introduced the Green New Deal in February, calling for a complete overhaul of the U.S. economy to reach “net-zero” emissions within 10 years. The bill also calls for programs totally unrelated programs, like jobs guarantees and universal health care.

Top congressional Democrats have not embraced the Green New Deal, which GOP rivals labeled as “socialist.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far avoided bringing the Green New Deal to the floor, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined his caucus in voting “present” on the Green New Deal when it hit the Senate floor.

California Rep. Scott Peters is one of those Democrats not supporting the Green New Deal. Peters said the Green New Deal was “divisive” and said most Democrats on the budget committee did not endorse it — though, a GOP lawmaker member later said more than half of committee Democrats co-sponsored it.

“We’re going to have to moderate our politics” to get results, Peters said. “I did litigation. That’s not what I’m here for.”

A rally by Victims of Communism Memorial Fund to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre outside of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a rally by Victims of Communism Memorial Fund to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, outside of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S. June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican, castigated his Democratic colleagues over their silence on the Green New Deal, saying it’s “something we apparently don’t want to talk about today.”

Missouri GOP Rep. Jason Smith also criticized Democrats for not wanting to talk about the Green New Deal, which he said most committee Democrats co-sponsored.

“That’s why it should be a topic of conversation for this committee,” Smith said.

Smith also criticized Democratic leadership for rendering the budget committee “useless” by not putting forward any budget proposals.

“The Democrat majority has rendered the budget committee useless because we’ve not done our job and we’re having a hearing on climate change today when we still need to pass a budget,” Smith said.

“There’s not even a budget proposal out there for this committee to vote on other than a Republican budget proposal. Let’s do our job,” Smith said.

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