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Green New Deal: why McConnell is holding a vote on Ocasio-Cortez’s plan

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a surprise announcement on Tuesday: He’s planning to hold a vote on the Green New Deal. But it’s not because he thinks it’s a good idea.

The sweeping joint resolution to tackle climate change aggressively was proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) last week. McConnell now wants to put Senate Democrats on the record about whether they support it. It’s an especially prescient political move, given how many Democrats in the Senate are running for president in 2020.

“I’ve noted with interest the Green New Deal. We’re going to be voting on that in the Senate; it will give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal,” McConnell said during a Tuesday press conference.

Nearly all the biggest 2020 names are co-sponsors on the Green New Deal — declared candidates Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are all on the bill, as is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is expected to make an announcement about running.

All said they’re doing so to make a big statement about their commitment to tackling climate change. It’s important to note that the Green New Deal is a resolution that’s basically a mission statement on how to address climate change, rather than an actual bill with policy prescriptions. (You can read Vox’s Dave Roberts on what the Green New Deal entails here.) But McConnell is hoping to put Democrats in an uncomfortable political position with this vote, especially since the Green New Deal’s rollout has already been marred by mistakes and mixed messages.

Markey sounded defiant when asked about McConnell’s plan to hold a vote on his resolution.

“Republicans don’t want to debate climate change; they only want to deny it,” the senator said in a statement. “The Green New Deal resolution has struck a powerful nerve in this country, and Republicans, climate deniers, and the fossil fuel industry are going to end up on the wrong side of history.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had a similar message, telling reporters that at least Democrats are offering a plan to deal with climate change, unlike the GOP.

“The first question Republicans should answer is what is their answer on climate change?” Schumer asked. “What are they going to put forward?”

This is a common strategy from GOP leadership when it comes to progressive messaging bills

McConnell’s tactic is an echo of something House GOP leaders tried last summer when progressive Democrats (then in the minority) filed a bill that would have abolished Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), among other things.

It was the height of the family separation crisis, but the rallying cry to “abolish ICE” was proving divisive in the Democratic Party. It was also the middle of the 2018 midterms, and Republicans were calculating it would be a losing message for Democrats, especially as they were trying to flip Republican-leaning districts across the country. (Democrats still won in a wave election.)

It didn’t work as planned; the progressive members of Congress who had introduced the bill quickly vowed to vote against it on the floor, saying they wouldn’t participate in Republicans’ stunt vote.

Now that the 2020 election is very much underway, McConnell has a similar calculus when it comes to the Green New Deal; not everyone is on board with the plan, and he wants to underscore the division in the Democratic Party.

Ocasio-Cortez and Markey have already had an embarrassing setback to their resolution via Ocasio-Cortez’s office, which released a fact sheet inconsistent with the actual legislative text of the Green New Deal resolution. One of the talking points included language promising economic security for even those “unwilling to work,” which was very much at odds with the resolution’s text.

The move could also ramp up the pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to vote on the resolution introduced by one of her star first-term members in the Democrat-controlled House. Pelosi so far has made no commitments to do so and has openly welcomed other proposals to tackle climate change.

So far, there hasn’t been much reaction to McConnell’s move from Ocasio-Cortez; Vox has reached out to her office for comment.

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Vox Sentences: The pope will listen to survivors

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Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

The Vatican prepares to talk about the sexual abuse of minors; Australia is hit with a cyberattack.


“The Protection of Minors in the Church”


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  • The Vatican prepared Monday for a Thursday meeting called “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” which will address the long and destructive history of sexual abuse of children by officials of the church. Pope Francis and presidents from international bishops’ conferences will gather for four days to meet with abuse survivors and increase transparency. [NYT / Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo]
  • Boston Archbishop Seán O’Malley, one of the few Americans who advise Pope Francis, says the church still lacks a procedure for how to deal with bishops accused of abuse. And addressing those wrongs is only complicated by the fact that most of the cases still waiting for justice occurred decades ago. [Atlantic / Emma Green]
  • The Vatican took decisive action over the weekend against a cleric it had long shielded: ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The former archbishop of Washington became the highest-ranking American cardinal to be defrocked after he was found guilty of abusing minors. McCarrick was made cardinal in 2001, despite the church knowing of accusations against him. [Vox / Amanda Sakuma]
  • On the same day the summit starts, an explosive new book by a French journalist will be released, alleging that the Catholic Church is “one of the biggest gay communities in the world.” In the Closet of the Vatican could be the first reliable account of gay members of the clergy, which has some members of the church worried it could distract from the meeting’s goal: addressing the abuse of minors. [CNN / Daniel Burke]
  • Gay Catholic priests have long been terrified to come out, fearing repercussions from the church, which almost always controls a priest’s housing, health insurance, and retirement pension. The Times spoke to two dozen anonymously, who said the environment is only getting worse, with homosexuality increasingly being blamed for clergy abuse of young boys. [NYT / Elizabeth Dias]
  • Relations between the Vatican and US church leaders like O’Malley on abuse cases are becoming more and more tense. O’Malley was excluded from organizing this week’s summit on sex abuse, despite his top position on the commission for the protection of minors. The Vatican thinks American leadership is going too far — even in the practice of publishing accused clergy members’ names. [WSJ / Francis X. Rocca]

Australia reckons with a cyberattack

  • An unidentified foreign government is likely responsible for a hack of Australia’s major political parties and its parliament’s computer network, according to a statement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday. [NYT / Jamie Tarabay]
  • The Australian government was already investigating an attack on the parliament that occurred early February when it became aware, 10 days later, that the Liberal, Labor, and National parties had also been breached. [Al Jazeera]
  • Australia’s federal elections are coming up in May, but Morrison assured the country there had not been any electoral interference — even as the Australian Cyber Security Centre admitted it did not know what information had been stolen. [BBC News]
  • “A sophisticated state actor” is the culprit, according to Morrison, and many policy experts are pointing to China or Russia. The attack draws attention to the potential meddling (by at least one of those countries) in the 2016 US elections, and how this could be repeated. [TechCrunch / Jon Russell]
  • It’s also possible the responsible organization tried to mimic China to encourage Australian and foreign officials to point fingers. China has denied any role in the attack. [The Verge / Jon Porter]

Miscellaneous

  • Past presidents like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have earned their place on national monuments — but history has shown that no president was a perfect leader. [NBC News / Ethan Sacks]
  • Public records about the Interior Department could be harder to access if a new rule the department has proposed is adopted. Under the rule, Interior would have more control over what information goes public and could limit how many documents one individual or an organization may view per month. [NPR / Nate Hegyi]
  • President Trump is expected to heighten support for Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela on Monday. Pressure for President Nicolás Maduro to step down is mounting from the US, which has targeted sanctions against Venezuela’s valuable oil industry. [CNN / Jeremy Diamond]
  • Only one of the current Democratic presidential hopefuls is a heterosexual white man. Others may declare, but they all could have trouble accessing in-demand campaign talent and media attention — not to mention widespread support — as women and other minority candidates appeal to voters. [Politico / Bill Scher]
  • Millions of Nigerians were disappointed on Saturday when a last-minute decision delayed national presidential elections. Without an absentee voting system, many Nigerian citizens who had traveled or planned to travel to their home districts had to change plans when they found out they wouldn’t be voting. Nigeria’s current president, Muhammadu Buhari, is seeking his second consecutive term. [NYT/ Dionne Searcey and Emmanuel Akinwotu]

Verbatim

“What you do to children matters. And they might never forget.” [Excerpt from God Help the Child by Toni Morrison, who turns 88 years old today]


Watch this: American segregation, mapped at day and night

We work in diverse places. We live in segregated ones. [YouTube / Alvin Chang]


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