Profiles in Courage this ain’t. Fresh off of calling an upcoming vote on the Green New Deal “a diversion, a sham,” Chuck Schumer has crafted plans to divert accountability from his caucus for the $93 trillion plan. Rather than take a position, the Senate Minority Leader wants his entire caucus to vote ‘present’ on their own proposal:
Senate Democratic leaders are grappling over how to vote on a controversial climate change proposal that is being championed by progressives and mocked by conservatives. …
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has floated a plan with his caucus to vote present on the ambitious legislation. It remains to be seen if Senate Democrats will embrace Schumer’s strategy.
That’s not flying with at least one member of Schumer’s caucus. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told The Hill that he’s a “no” on the GND, and a hard “no” on present votes:
“I got to work with reality. I got to make sure we have the benefit of affordable energy,” Manchin said.
Asked about his colleague’s plan to vote present on the Green New Deal, Manchin responded, “They can do what they want to do. I’m not a present-type guy.”
The real sham is the Green New Deal itself, which Schumer’s attempting to distance from his caucus. So is this “present” vote, which directly contradicts Schumer’s attack on Mitch McConnell for calling the vote. In his two-minute speech on the Senate floor, Schumer demanded that McConnell take a stand on climate change and the need for congressional action:
If Republicans need to do all that, why doesn’t Schumer feel the need to make his colleagues take a stand on their own bill? These demands are a lame attempt to shift attention away from a ridiculous proposal that has much more to do with imposing government control on American lives than it does about the climate.
Besides, McConnell’s hardly the only one “knocking the Green New Deal,” as Schumer complained yesterday. Even Nancy Pelosi’s able to discuss it honestly in Rolling Stone magazine, for pity’s sake. Why not just admit it’s a mistake rather than vote “present”?
Now, in terms of the Green New Deal [as conceived], that goes beyond what our charge is. Our charge is about saving the planet. They have in there things like single-payer and . . . what is it? Guaranteed income?
Pelosi Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill: Guaranteed income, and then a jobs guarantee.
Pelosi: And then they have, I don’t know if it’s single-payer or Medicare for All. . . . It’s kind of, like, a broader agenda. All good values, but nonetheless, not what we hope to achieve with this focused, determined, decision-making.
The answer to the previous question is obvious — Pelosi’s not going to make her caucus take an embarrassing vote on the GND that will paint her members into tight corners no matter what they choose. If they vote no, progressive groups like the Justice Democrats will come after them in the primaries. If they vote yes, independent and moderate voters will abandon them in the general election.
Under the circumstances, “present” may be the best strategy possible. It’s craven and hypocritical, but with his party careening towards socialism, that’s all Schumer has left.