Capitol Alert

Feinstein’s Green New Deal is ‘like shifting to Deck B on the Titanic,’ progressives say

The schoolchildren who hammered California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on video last week over her lack of support for the Green New Deal could be forgiven for thinking they made some progress.

The liberal-leaning Courage Campaign, based in California, told its members over the weekend that Feinstein had dropped a more moderate climate change proposal of her own after meeting with the students.

“Her proposal would provide senators funded by the fossil fuel industry with political cover to vote no on the Green New Deal while claiming to support action,” the email by the Courage Campaign reads. “That’s why it’s so important that the Sunrise Movement kids were able to convince her to drop her weak Green New Deal alternative.”

But she hasn’t dropped it, and she doesn’t plan to do so.

The California senator’s draft legislation to reduce climate change calls for net-zero global warming gas emissions by 2050, which is a slower timeline than the so-called Green New Deal pushed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Feinstein said she still plans to introduce her bill, but “we’re reworking it before we introduce it.”

She also said it’s “not necessarily” meant as an alternative to Ocasio-Coretz’s Green New Deal, which Republicans have widely criticized as too costly for calling to upgrade most existing buildings in the U.S. to be more climate friendly and emphasizing train travel over air travel.

Feinstein declined to provide a timeline for its introduction, saying the focus is on “getting it right.” Most environmental groups that praised the Green New Deal have remained mum on her plan so far, and many didn’t respond to requests for comment on Feinstein’s draft.

Courage Campaign Executive Director Eddie Kurtz, when reached by McClatchy Wednesday, said it was “news to me” that Feinstein was not dropping her proposal, and had scathing words for the senator, saying going forward with something like her draft proposal was “unconscionable.”

“It offers comfort to the Joe Manchins of the world, who get a lot of funding from the fossil fuel industry, and allows them to pretend they care about climate change without doing something that matters,” Kurtz said, referencing the Democratic West Virginia senator who has called the Green New Deal a “dream” that he doesn’t support.

Feinstein had argued in the viral video that she wanted to support legislation that actually had a shot of passing, and therefore wanted a bill that could achieve Republican support as well as Democrats’. She said she has not yet spoken to Republican colleagues about her draft.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch “McConnell is not allowing anything on climate change to pass,” Kurtz argued. “Anything (Feinstein) puts out would have no more chance than the Green New Deal. Compromise can be a good thing, but at this point it’s like shifting to Deck B on the Titanic.”

Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.