Backed by climate, health, and labor groups, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey on Thursday reintroduced the Green New Deal Resolution, which the progressive leaders have been fighting for since they first unveiled it in February 2019.
“In the four years since we first introduced the Green New Deal, the tides of our movement have risen and lifted climate action to the top of the national agenda,” Markey (D-Mass.) said of the resolution, which envisions a 10-year mobilization that employs millions in well-paying union jobs to help the country respond to the climate emergency.
“Thanks to the persistence of the Green New Deal movement, we succeeded in securing historic progress through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” he noted, “and now we have an obligation to honor the origins of that success—which sprung from the young people and workers who never once stopped organizing for their future—by putting those dollars to work to create dignified jobs, rectify generations of systemic injustice, and reverse climate damage.”
Along with reintroducing the resolution—a largely symbolic move given the current makeup of Congress—the pair released a guide for cities, states, tribes, nonprofits, and individuals about how those two laws “help bring the Green New Deal to life.”
“Finally, it is understood that the climate crisis demands a full transformation of our economy and society that the government must lead.”
While some progressives criticized the Inflation Reduction Act for pouring “gasoline on the flames” of the climate crisis by extending the fossil fuel era, it was still widely heralded for investing a historic $369 billion in “energy security and climate change.”
Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that “when we first introduced the Green New Deal, we were told that our vision for the future was too aspirational. Four years later, we see core tenets of the Green New Deal reflected in the Inflation Reduction Act—the largest ever federal investment in fighting climate change, with a focus on creating good, green jobs.”
“But there is still much, much more to do to make environmental justice the center of U.S. climate policy,” the congresswoman acknowledged. “Today’s reintroduction marks the beginning of that process—of strengthening and broadening our coalition, and of laying the policy groundwork for the next fight.”
The resolution is co-sponsored by several lawmakers in both chambers of Congress and endorsed by dozens of groups, including the Sunrise Movement, whose executive director, Varshini Prakash, said that Thursday “marks our recommitment to the bold vision of the Green New Deal—the only plan to stop the climate crisis at the speed and scale that science and justice demand.”
“Since the Green New Deal was first introduced, we have made climate a rallying cry for our generation and a political priority for our politicians,” Prakash continued. “And in just a few years, through our organizing, we have elected new leaders, helped pass the biggest climate bill in U.S. history, and built a new consensus in the Democratic Party—finally, it is understood that the climate crisis demands a full transformation of our economy and society that the government must lead.”
“Across this country, millions of young people still dream of a Green New Deal,” she added. “So as fossil fuel billionaires and right-wing extremists take on the battle for control of our classrooms and communities, we are fighting back. Together, we will take over, classroom by classroom, school by school, city by city until we win the Green New Deal in every corner of this country.”
Markey declared that “we have demonstrated that our movement is a potent political force, and in the run-up to the 2024 elections, we will direct this power to demanding solutions to the intersectional crises Congress has yet to address: in healthcare, childcare, schools, housing, transit, labor, and economic and racial justice.”
Also on Thursday and as part of that pledge, Markey partnered with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to introduce the Green New Deal for Health, a bill “to prepare and empower the healthcare sector to protect the health and well-being of our workers, our communities, and our planet in the face of the climate crisis, and for other purposes.”
The senator stressed that “the American healthcare system is broken—from the exorbitant medical bills and outlandish insurance premiums to maxed out emergency rooms and shuttering hospitals. With climate disasters on the rise, the health and safety of frontline environmental justice communities is more precarious than ever.”
“We urgently need to invest in a more sustainable system, one that is resilient to the impacts of climate change, supports its workers, and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. We can’t have a healthcare system that makes us sicker while healthcare providers work to make us well,” added Markey—who, like Khanna, supports Medicare for All.
The bill would invest $130 billion in community health centers, authorize $100 billion in federal grants for medical facilities to improve climate resilience and disaster mitigation efforts, require hospitals that receive Medicare payments to notify the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary at least 180 days before a full closure, and create a task force to ensure a greener medical supply chain.
“Across the world, hundreds of millions of people are already feeling the effects of climate change and the health consequences that often follow. From increased cases of asthma due to air pollution to disruptions at care facilities after extreme weather events, it’s clear we need to take steps now to protect public health,” said Khanna.
The healthcare legislation is also backed by progressives from both chambers and various advocacy groups and unions.
“Stopping the climate crisis will require us to transform every aspect of our society, our economy, and especially our healthcare system, to work for people and the planet,” said Sunrise’s Prakash. “Sen. Markey’s Green New Deal for Health finally addresses the staggering, often-overlooked costs to our health from fossil fuel-generated air pollution and climate change, and begins to build a system where people and workers are taken care of. If our generation is going to have a shot at a livable future, we must pass it as we strive towards our vision of a Green New Deal.”
Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams. Common Dreams’ work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). System Change Not Climate Change is grateful for this contribution to the commons.