On February 28, 2019, three weeks after the ambitious Green New Deal was introduced in the House and Senate, all 47 Senate Democrats cosponsored a more moderate resolution on climate change. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced A Joint Resolution Calling on the United States and Congress to Take Immediate Action to Address the Challenge of Climate Change (“Joint Climate Resolution"), indexed as S.J. Res. 9 in the 116th Congress. The Joint Climate Resolution asserts that climate change is real, caused by human activity, and requires immediate Congressional action.
The Joint Climate Resolution serves as a Democratic counteroffensive to the negative Republican response to the Green New Deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed his intent to force a Senate vote on the progressive Green New Deal to force more moderate Democratic Senators to go on record against it, and reveal divisions in the party.
Lacking specific targets or policy actions, the Joint Climate Resolution is a subdued version of the Green New Deal. It provides cover for those Democratic Senators who may vote against the Green New Deal, and, as a unanimous resolution, demonstrates party unity. Further, if it were ever brought to a vote in the Senate, Republicans would be under pressure to either support it or risk being accused of denying the existence of climate change.
McConnell has called for a test vote on the Green New Deal immediately after the March recess—it will likely occur on March 26. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that Senate Democrats will demand a vote on the Joint Climate Resolution if they must vote on the Green New Deal.
Climate change promises to be a central issue in the 2020 elections. Six Democratic presidential candidates are cosponsors of the Green New Deal: Amy Klobuchar (D-MN.), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who is up for re-election in 2020, became the first Republican to cosponsor the Joint Climate Resolution on March 6, 2019.