|March 14, 2019|
GOP lawmaker: Green New Deal 'tantamount to genocide'
|House Republicans launched a biting attack Thursday against an aggressive Democratic Green New Deal plan to tackle climate change, with one senior GOP lawmaker contending it would be "tantamount to genocide."|
Republicans have sought to portray the Green New Deal proposal as a "socialist" takeover of the economy that would destroy the U.S., even though the non-binding resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is vague in its call to transition to a clean economy, create jobs and refurbish buildings to become more efficient.
But Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, the top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee, amped up the rhetoric again at a press conference, saying the components of the Green New Deal are "tantamount to genocide" for rural residents in the country.
He quickly added that his comment was "maybe an overstatement, but not by a lot."
Democrats, who are planning to continue a slate of hearings on climate change but have not planned to dig into the Green New Deal resolution quickly latched on to the comments as evidence Republicans will work to thwart any action on climate change.
"It's no longer enough to say Republicans aren't taking climate change seriously," Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said. "These stunts are getting more desperate and disconnected from reality."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't address Bishop's specific comments, but said any specific policies would be worked out in committees, and she praised the Green New Deal for raising the profile of climate change, which she called a "moral issue."
"We all have a responsibility to pass this planet onto future generations in a responsible way," Pelosi told reporters. Earth is "God's creation and we have a moral responsibility of being good stewards to it."
Sierra Club quickly jumped on the comments by Bishop, who has previously claimed the Green New Deal would ban hamburgers.
"Congressional Republicans' abhorrent, extremist rhetoric is completely unacceptable," Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a statement. "Their continued climate denial and refusal to take action further proves that when faced with the opportunity to actually tackle the climate crisis and inequity, Congressional Republicans will always resort to dangerous, bombastic language to avoid doing their jobs."
Several of the other six House members issued more measured statements than Bishop's, and they sought to put the onus on Democrats to defend it.
"Frankly, I think House Democrats are afraid to have this debate," Energy and Commerce ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said, adding that if Democrats don't believe a suspect $93 trillion figure from a Republican-aligned group they should offer their own. That Republican figure is based on assumptions of the costs of universal health care and jobs programs rather than the costs of transitioning to carbon-free electricity and transportation.
Democrats have largely said the Green New Deal represented a reaction to years of Republican inaction on climate change in the face of new, dire scientific warnings that countries need to be on a path to quickly cut greenhouse gas emissions if the planet is to avoid catastrophic changes. And on Wednesday, the U.N. Environment Program issued an annual report that warned tens of millions of lives were at risk because of climate change and other unsustainable human activities.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who also attended the GOP press conference on Thursday, was unable to point to specific legislation Republicans preferred to address climate change as an alternative to the Green New Deal.
In the Senate, Republicans have devoted lengthy floor remarks and press conferences in recent weeks to bashing the resolution.
"The proposal we are talking about is, frankly, delusional," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday on the floor. "It is so unserious that it ought to be beneath one of our two major political parties to line up behind it."
Multiple Republican senators told POLITICO they expect McConnell to call a vote on the resolution shortly after it returns from next week's constituent work period.
Amid the escalating war of words over the Green New Deal, Democrats are gearing up to begin their climate legislation push in earnest in the House. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), chairman of the E&C's Environment and Climate Change panel, told POLITICO he met Wednesday with utilities as he prepares to kick off a series of hearings on climate-related legislation like measures on energy efficiency, an enhanced weatherization assistance program, charging stations and new investments in advanced energy research.