Bring the Resolution (for a Green New Deal)

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).

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

 Sen. Dianne FeinsteinSen. Kamala HarrisRep. Mark DeSaulnierRep. Barbara LeeRep. 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%
Pro-🌍
100%
Pro-🌍
99%
Pro-🌍
96%
Pro-🌍
95%
Pro-🌍
*Note: All vote scores are based on the League of Conservation Voters Lifetime National Environmental Scorecard

Elizabeth Douglas and Sylvia Chi contributed to this article.

Photograph “Green New Deal Presser” © Senate Democrats 

Trump Sides With Russia, The Resistance Sides with America

By Nancy Latham

Ever since Trump careened onto the national political stage, the American people have been bombarded with news about him. Mostly the stories hover at a dull roar of sleaze and villainy, but every so often there is a trumpian screech that brings our grief and outrage to new heights. Mexicans are rapists. African countries are shitholes. Some Nazis, on the other hand, are very fine people. Child abuse is our immigration policy … Each time, we wonder for a moment: “has he finally gone too far?” Then we come to our senses – of course Trump will survive this. He has obliterated our collective sense of what too far even means.

But can Trump’s nauseating prostration before Putin in Helsinki have finally done it?

July 16, 2018, the day of all the Helsinki Summit news coverage, something seemed different. The chronically spineless Paul “We should not be criticizing our president while he’s overseas” Ryan came out with this statement: “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.” And Mitch “party over country” McConnell said “The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.”

Even more startling than rebukes from lawmakers were those from Fox MediaAbby Huntsman, a host of Fox & Friends, tweeted, “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.” From Neil Cavuto, a host of Fox Business: “It’s not a right or left thing to me – it’s just wrong.” The Fox propaganda sustains the belief system of Trump voters; the day that Fox stops shilling for the administration could just be the day that the the fervor of Trump supporters starts to cool.

In this extraordinary moment, Trump’s staunchest and highest-profile supporters began to turn against him. Why? Because Trump made the mistake of activating their identities as Americans, rather than their identities as Republicans.

The increasing polarization of Republicans and Democrats – growing for decades – has turned every policy issue into a question not of what works and what doesn’t, but of who wins and who loses. Every time our party identities are activated, we see the world through the lens of rivalry with the opposing party, and are swept away by a powerful tribalism. And social science tells us that the only thing that can overcome divisive identities is a “superordinate identity”: a social category to which competing groups can all belong. For Republicans and Democrats, that “superordinate identity” is “American.”

By siding with an international adversary against his own country, Trump shone klieg lights on our American identity, obscuring our competing political identities. Listen to the language Republicans have been using:

  • John McCain: “Our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”
  • Lisa Murkowski: “Sadly President Trump did not defend America to the Russian president, and for the world to see. Instead, what I saw today was not ‘America First,’ it was simply a sad diminishment of our great nation.”
  • John Kasich: “We need to be clear. Russia is our foe. Putin is actively trying to hurt our country. America needs to speak with one voice AGAINST Russia.”
  • Joe Walsh, former Congressman and fervent Trump supporter (until July 16th): “Trump was a traitor today. I cannot & will not support a traitor. No decent American should.”

One day later, Trump’s advisors had managed to corral him, and he walked back his Helsinki remarks. His claim that he had simply misspoken was ludicrous enough that even dictionary.com made fun of it, providing the usage quote “Trump blames his support of Russia on a double negative and no one’s buying it.” But that didn’t matter. It will be enough for craven Republican lawmakers to find political cover so they can stick with Trump while he continues to deliver on hard right policies.

But I’m not so sure we’re back where we were before Helsinki. Perhaps this is just the fever dream of a Resistance fighter – but I wonder if we have glimpsed the beginning of the end for Trump. By so dramatically highlighting our common identity as Americans, he unwittingly handed us a powerful tool we can use to shape the conversation. On protest signs, in rally speeches, in letters to the editor, in blog posts, in tweets – everywhere – we should relentlessly declare that the deeper fight is not between Republicans and Democrats, but between America and a foreign rival. It is between free elections and the enemies of our institutions. Trump has chosen his side, and – no matter how he tries to wiggle out of what we all heard him say – he has sided with Putin. We must call on all patriots to choose our side: here with American democracy.

The Resistance has been aghast for almost two years about this administration’s assault on democracy. We can barely contain our rage at the Republicans who batter our institutions daily for the sake of entrenching their power. So let’s push the public discourse to remind us all of our shared identity. Let’s keep saying what we’ve been saying all along, and what has now been proven for the whole world to see: Trump is a traitor. Let’s say over and over where the real threat lies, and what’s at stake. Republicans are Americans too, and they might surprise us by rising – finally – to the defense of their country.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governing Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.