‘Senator McConnell had already announced that he will be bringing the Green New Deal up for a vote…’
(Katherine Tully–McManus, CQ-Roll Call) Advocates for the Green New Deal descended on Capitol Hill Monday, and demonstrations led by activist organization Sunrise Movement resulted in dozens of arrests in and around the Russell Senate office building.
Protesters were focused on getting the attention of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who announced before the Presidents Day recess that he would bring a resolution on the Green New Deal to a vote in the Senate.
“Look us in the eye and tell us that the $1.9 million from oil companies is worth more than our lives,” said one young Kentuckian, referencing campaign contributions from industry groups McConnell’s campaigns have accepted.
“We have rights to good jobs and a livable future,” read the black t-shirts that many of the demonstrators wore.
The group, which included people from McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, filled the entryway of his office and lined hallways of the Russell building.
However, as is common for most lawmakers in leadership roles, McConnell works primarily out of his office in the Capitol building, not the one in Russell.
It echoed an earlier event in which Green New Deal sponsor Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-N.Y., and other freshman Democrats, shortly after their induction to Congress, spent the better part of a day trying to scour the Senate office building for McConnell’s hideout.
800,000 workers are missing their paychecks and we’re pushing to get them paid ASAP.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 16, 2019
The protesters, made up mostly of young adults, sang “whose side are you on, now, whose side are you on?” while jumping up and down in the hallway.
The group also had banners that read “Mitch, Look Us In The Eye” and “Kentucky needs a Green New Deal.”
Capitol Police arrested 42 of the demonstrators, while those under arrest and their supporters continued to sing.
Those arrested were charged with “Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding,” under D.C. code, according to Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki.
The demonstration then moved outside, where winds gusting above 50 mph didn’t deter the protesters, who continued chanting and singing and speaking about the ambitious proposal on climate change that they came to support. They looked on as arrested activists were led into large Capitol Police vans to be transported for processing.
The Green New Deal, championed by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., is a massive proposal intended to mitigate the impacts of climate change. In the process, it would radically overhaul a major portion of the U.S. economy, likely bankrupting the country or producing hyperinflation.
Among the proposals included in it are sustainable wages for those “unable or unwilling to work”; the likely end of all air travel; and zero-balance emissions on cow flatulence, presumably by regulating people’s diets and forcing them to eat more vegetables.
It also proposes trillions of dollars in infrastructure, such as high-speed rail, and retrofitting every building in the U.S. to be more green-sustainable.
The non-binding resolution has little chance of adoption in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority. McConnell’s move to bring it to the floor is likely an effort to both get the many Democratic senators running for president on the record on the resolution, as well as to demonstrate that there are senators on both sides of the aisle opposed to the outline.
In a statement about the protests, McConnell said, “As with all Kentuckians visiting DC, we welcomed them to the office today. It’s worth noting that two weeks before, Senator McConnell had already announced that he will be bringing the Green New Deal up for a vote in the U.S. Senate.”
McConnell, who is running for re-election in 2020, also seems sure to run next year on his opposition to the proposal. His last Senate campaign featured his efforts to stop environmental actions by President Barack Obama’s administration, something he repeatedly referred to as the “war on coal.”
Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley took to Twitter, praising the demonstrators by saying “the YOUTH have the POWER” while inexplicably attacking McConnell for his “obstruction” despite the majority leader’s agreeing to put the bill to a vote.
.@senatemajldr claims that a #GreenNewDeal is unattainable, as if he suddenly cares about climate. Instead of his obstruction, we need these bold and transformation solutions to save our planet and economy. Keep fighting, @sunrisemvmt!
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) February 25, 2019
(Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski and Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report. )
(c)2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.