You may have heard since our last post on the Green New Deal that we now have a pair of resolutions in the House and the Senate “Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to enact a Green New Deal”! To keep the Green New Deal on our policy agenda, call your representatives and urge them:
- to vote for the resolutions if they have the chance, and
- to keep pushing for legislation to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs in our growing green economy, and support all communities and workers through the transition.
See the call scripts at the end of this post; read on for an update on the Green New Deal resolutions and other, related legislation, and what the Republicans are doing in response.
Senate Resolution 59, introduced February 7th, and House Resolution 109, introduced February 8th, are identical resolutions that in some form include all of the Green New Deal features we’ve described in our previous blog posts: to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and ensure economic security for all people, invest in sustainable infrastructure, secure a clean and healthy environment, and promote justice and equity for Indigenous peoples, people of color, immigrants, rural communities, and other groups experiencing discrimination or disinvestment. In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced Senate Joint Resolution 8 as a trolling attempt to to sow division among Democrats who have differing policy views on how to address the climate crisis. S.J.Res.8 – which has the best shot at getting a vote this Congress of the three resolutions – contains the same text as the Democrats’ resolutions, but could, if it passed both houses, theoretically go to the President for his signature, unlike the Democrats’ simple resolutions.
To achieve the ends of the GND, the resolution text describes a 10-year “national mobilization,” including a long list of goals and projects that range from investment in climate resiliency projects to overhauling the transportation system to cleaning up hazardous waste sites to promoting international technology exchange. The resolution plans to achieve these goals through “transparent and inclusive consultation” with affected communities and workers, training and education, research and development of renewable energy technologies, creation of jobs with family-sustaining wages, and enacting and enforcing rules and regulations to protect workers and the environment.
The resolutions recommend concrete, achievable, affordable, and necessary solutions. Two economists writing for Forbes argue that increased taxes on the wealthiest people and increased borrowing are safe, sustainable, and effective funding sources, and that our economy has the capacity to increase productivity enough to provide jobs for all those who want one. Research efforts have identified detailed solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reaching 100% renewable energy in the US. Experts agree that the technology already exists to achieve the Green New Deal’s environmental goals.
While we definitely want to go out dancing to celebrate this awesome step towards addressing climate change, and while we support these pieces of legislation and urge our Members of Congress to vote for them, we also want to point out that these are resolutions, not bills. They are symbolic statements of position or intent by the voting chamber; they do not require any action once passed, and will not lead to concrete change without further legislative action. In essence, the resolutions are an important first step, and since they’re a symbolic gesture without any commitment of resources, they allow our representatives to show support for the big ideas that we need in order to tackle climate change, while leaving debates over the details for a later discussion. As Vox climate writer David Roberts put it, the resolutions aren’t intended to serve as a policy blueprint, but are “a prelude to two years of intense policy development” – so Democrats should unite around the Green New Deal’s goals, which means supporting them even in the form of McConnell’s S.J.Res.8 if and when it comes up for a vote.
We in the East Bay are fortunate that our MoCs have solid pro-environment track records. However, our Senators and Representatives all have nuances in their policy approach and varied areas of interest for climate action. See what they say and how they vote below (NOTE: All vote scores are based on the League of Conservation Voters Lifetime National Environmental Scorecard).
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein is supportive of the GND in spirit, although she has expressed doubt about the GND in its currently proposed form. She floated her own less ambitious draft resolution on climate change, but has reportedly shelved it in response to pressure from climate activists. She has returned donations that violated her No Fossil Fuel Money pledge. Read Feinstein’s latest statement on the importance of science-based climate change policy here. She has a 90% pro-🌍 voting record.
- Sen. Kamala Harris is a cosponsor of S.Res.59. Harris has made a clear statement of support on GND in her most recent Medium Post. Equity must be at the center of environmental policy for Harris, as her staff noted when we went to visit her in DC. She has a 100% pro-🌍 voting record.
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier is a cosponsor of H.Res.109, though he has yet to make a public statement about the GND. His record shows that he has prioritized protecting fuel efficiency standards and promoting zero-emissions vehicles, and this year he is a sponsor of the Sustainable Energy Development Act, a bill that would, among other things, account for the social costs of carbon dioxide. He has a 99% pro-🌍 voting record.
- Rep. Barbara Lee is a cosponsor of H.Res.109. Lee was an early supporter of the GND, and supported a proposal for a Select Committee for the GND. She supports a move to 100% renewable energy and gets the urgency of this issue, as she states “We must take action on climate change — now.” She has a 96% pro-🌍 voting record.
- Rep. Eric Swalwell is a cosponsor of H.Res.109. Check out his strong track record on renewable energy and the environment from previous sessions of Congress. His focus areas are renewables and sustainability, as he states: “I am working to encourage innovation in the field of renewable energy and energy conservation.” He has 95% pro-🌍 voting record.
What you can do:
Call your Members of Congress NOW and keep calling! We don’t know yet if or when a vote on the Green New Deal will be held, so we need to keep the pressure on.
What to say:
For Sen. Feinstein:
My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank the Senator for her continued and vocal support of federal action on climate change, and for returning donations that violated her No Fossil Fuel Money pledge. I also want the Senator to vote in favor of the Green New Deal resolution, not just vote “Present.” Climate change is the most urgent challenge of our time, and supporting the Green New Deal would demonstrate that the Senator understands the kind of action we need to take to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming.
For Sen. Harris:
My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Senator Harris for co-sponsoring Senate Resolution 59 in support of a Green New Deal. This is an important first step that we need to take in order to address the current climate crisis. I want the Senator to continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal, to talk with her colleagues to encourage their support, and to pressure the Senate leadership to put this resolution up for a vote.
For Reps. DeSaulnier, Lee and Swalwell:
My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Representative ________ for co-sponsoring House Resolution 109 in support of a Green New Deal. This is an important first step that we need to take in order to address the current climate crisis. I want Representative ________ to continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal, to talk with (her/his) colleagues to encourage their support, and to pressure the House leadership to put this resolution up for a vote.
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
- Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
- Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
- Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065
Your East Bay MoCs and the Green New Deal
*Note: All vote scores are based on the League of Conservation Voters Lifetime National Environmental Scorecard
| ||Sen. Dianne Feinstein||Sen. Kamala Harris||Rep. Mark DeSaulnier||Rep. Barbara Lee||Rep. Eric Swalwell
|Supports the Green New Deal?||In spirit, yes, but she she has her own draft resolution (on hold for now).|
Cosponsor of S.Res.59
Cosponsor of H.Res.109
Cosponsor of H.Res.109
Cosponsor of H.Res.109
|What have they said?||Feinstein is a solid supporter of science, and says “Climate change policy should always be based on objective science and never on politically biased panels.”|
Read Feinstein’s latest statement here.
|Harris has made a clear statement of support on GND in her most recent Medium Post. |
NOTE: Equity must be at the center of environmental policy for Harris, as noted when we went to visit her in DC.
|No public statement on the GND. |
DeSaulnier has prioritized protecting fuel efficiency standards & promoting zero-emissions vehicles.
|“We must take action on climate change — now.”|
Lee was an earlier supporter of the GND, and supported a proposal for a Select Committee for the GND.
|“I am working to encourage innovation in the field of renewable energy and energy conservation.”
Check out his strong track record from previous sessions of Congress.
|How have they voted on environmental legislation?*||90%|
Elizabeth Douglas and Sylvia Chi contributed to this article.
Photograph “Green New Deal Presser” © Senate Democrats