Several weeks ago, not long after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced her infamous Green New Deal legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his intention to force the full Senate to vote on the measure. While they haven’t said as much publicly, House Republicans should attempt to follow suit, and demand that House Democrats vote on the bill.
Multiple press accounts late last week talked of divisions within the House Democratic Caucus pitting Ocasio-Cortez and liberals against members from more moderate districts. Forcing a vote on the Green New Deal would highlight not just the bad ideas in the legislation, but how the Democratic Party remains in disarray over Ocasio-Cortez’ socialist vision.
The Successful Motion to Recommit
Internal dissension within Democratic ranks erupted at a closed-door meeting of House Democrats last Thursday. On Wednesday, Republicans had successfully used a motion to recommit—the minority party’s last chance to amend legislation in the House before it comes to a final vote—to attach an immigration-related provision on to a Democrat gun-control measure. The amendment added a requirement that, if the national background check system finds that an undocumented immigrant has applied to purchase a handgun, authorities notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of that fact.
Ignore for the moment that 209 members of Congress—all but one of them Democrats—opposed this common-sense move to notify immigration authorities when individuals unlawfully present attempt to purchase guns. In Thursday’s closed-door meeting, House Democratic leaders and liberals in the party sounded incredulous against the 26 moderate Democrats who had the temerity to support such a provision. According to the Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez took the occasion to make some thinly veiled threats against her colleagues:
Ocasio-Cortez, the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election. Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said she told her colleagues that Democrats who side with Republicans ‘are putting themselves on a list.’
‘She said that when activists ask her why she had to vote for a gun safety bill that also further empowers an agency that forcibly injects kids with psychotropic drugs, they’re going to want a list of names and she’s going to give it to them,’ Trent said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
What About a Green New Deal Amendment?
Thus far, House Republicans have offered motions to recommit designed to appeal to moderate Democrats. Those efforts have led to passage of two separate Republican motions to recommit (including Wednesday’s immigration amendment) since the current Congress convened in January—two more than in the prior eight years Republicans controlled the House. The tactic has made the motion to recommit something that the Democratic majority now fears, as evidenced by last week’s recriminations.
But what if House Republicans decide to change tack, and offer the Green New Deal as an amendment? What will Ocasio-Cortez do about that? Will she put herself on the “naughty list” she promised to distribute to her supporters, for voting for a Republican motion to recommit? Will she attack Republicans for having the audacity to allow her a vote on her own signature legislative program?
There’s only one way to find out.
Left Hand versus the Far Left Hand
One cardinal rule of politics holds that when your opponent is in the middle of destroying himself, you should get out of the way. The Democratic Party seems hellbent on doing just that, whether it’s single-payer health care legislation, the Green New Deal, or the activists who will countenance no resistance to their proposals.
However, “The Simpsons” also reminded us of the ways a clever opponent can highlight those in-built fissures. In the motion to recommit, House Republicans have an opportunity to highlight both the insanity of the left’s policy proposals, and the deep divisions within the Democratic Party about it. They should take it.