On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) followed through on his promise to bring Sen. Ed Markey’s resolution on a Green New Deal to the Senate floor, in a blatant attempt to undermine the resolution’s momentum and divide Democrats on the ambitious piece of climate legislation. In response, the Democratic caucus remained mostly unified in voting “present” on the measure (a procedural move to show their objection to the cynical vote), while Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Angus King (I-ME) joined fossil fuel puppet Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and all 53 Republicans in voting against the Green New Deal.
The vote does not come as a surprise, as Republicans have openly mocked the Green New Deal and used scare tactics to influence public opinion, claiming the plan would ban hamburgers and citing a $93 trillion cost estimate that is not based in reality and was recently traced back to a Koch-backed think tank. Outside of climate denial fantasy-land, 13 Democratic senators and six 2020 Presidential contenders have endorsed the Green New Deal, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Increasingly, politicians are recognizing that real climate leadership means taking bold action to transform our economy and society while transitioning away from fossil fuel production and ensuring vulnerable communities are supported. While it is disappointing that Senate Democrats did not publicly take a stance on the Green New Deal resolution, it is important to highlight the overwhelming amount of fossil fuel money that influenced those senators who voted against the measure.
The Fossil Fuel Money Breakdown:¹
– Combined fossil fuel contributions to “no” votes against Green New Deal resolution: over $55,000,000
– Average lifetime fossil fuel contributions per “no” vote against Green New Deal resolution: $967,305
– Average lifetime fossil fuel contributions per “present” vote on Green New Deal resolution: $113,976
Fossil fuel interests have given over 11 times as much dirty money to senators voting against the Green New Deal resolution than to those who voted “present” to block McConnell’s cynical ploy. The vote underscores the power and influence that the oil, gas, and coal industry wields over our elected officials, and the importance of getting the corrupting influence of fossil fuel money out of our political system. A previous Oil Change U.S. analysis found that senators not co-sponsoring Sen. Markey’s Green New Deal resolution received more than seven times as much fossil fuel money as the co-sponsors.
Many senators up for election in 2020 have been vocal opponents of the Green New Deal, while at the same time collectively accepting over $3 million from the oil, gas, and coal industries:
– Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ): $501,264 from the oil, gas, and coal industries
– Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO): $1,343,649 from the oil, gas, and coal industries
– Sen. David Perdue (R-GA): $240,650 from the oil, gas, and coal industries
– Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA): $213,900 from the oil, gas, and coal industries
– Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME): $325,084 from the oil, gas, and coal industries
– Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): $377,850 from the oil, gas, and coal industries
With this week’s industry-sponsored political theater out of the way, it’s time for Democrats to get serious about truly leading on climate in a way that winds down fossil fuel production to protect communities and the climate. Democrats must go beyond vocalizing vague support for ambitious climate action on the campaign trail, stand up to the fossil fuel industry, and support the bold action required to prevent climate catastrophe. The science is clear – we need a courageous Green New Deal that ends handouts to Big Oil, Gas, and Coal and prioritizes a managed decline of fossil fuel production.
Want to get involved in the ongoing fight to get fossil fuel money out of our politics? Here’s what’s next:
 “Oil, Gas, & Coal Contributions,” Center for Responsible Politics, 02-01-19