Cheney Questions Climate Change Panelists on Green New Deal, Wonders if They Support 'Vacation Commissar'

February 12, 2019

Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) questioned witnesses testifying about "energy transition" in the United States about their support for the Green New Deal on Tuesday, expressing concern with the plan's implications.

Cheney, during a natural resources subcommittee hearing on "Climate Change: Preparing for the Energy Transition," took aim at the proposal's expressed intent to end all air travel.

"I have to say, one of the issues that people are particularly concerned about is the extent to which we're no longer gonna have air travel, apparently," Cheney said.

A supplemental document explaining how to implement the Green New Deal, hosted on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D., N.Y.) congressional website, explains the plan seeks to quickly eliminate "farting cows and airplanes." The document was released last week in conjunction with a 14-page Green New Deal resolution. Though Ocasio-Cortez removed the document in response to backlash, and her defenders claimed critics were referring to a fake copy of the proposal, the document remains archived on the congresswoman's website.

Cheney wondered how the government would regulate who could travel, and on what grounds flights would be approved. Chandra Farley, the Just Energy Director at the Partnership for Southern Equity in Atlanta, Georgia, offered that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would make those decisions.

Cheney questioned whether the government would still allow Americans to fly for vacation, or whether California's representatives would have to bicycle to and from Washington, D.C. In the style of a Soviet government, perhaps there would be a "vacation commissar set up in the government" to make those decisions, she offered.

She further wondered how the panelists, who hailed from West Virginia, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana, were living out the vision of a world without flights. She asked the panelists to first answer "how exactly they arrived in Washington, D.C." for the hearing.

Multiple panelists confirmed they traveled by air. Cheney later asked whether any of the witnesses supported the Green New Deal.

"So let me ask you then," Cheney asked, "are there any other witnesses on the panel who do support the Green New Deal?"

Following a few moments of silence, some jumped in to express qualified support, or deferred, denying expertise on the specific legislation.

The Green New Deal involves trillions of dollars in unfunded spending. The supplemental document explains Congress will conjure the funds for it by creating new banks and borrowing. Supporters of the plan, including Ocasio-Cortez, flatly agree it would require "massive government intervention" into the lives, wallets, and privacy of Americans.

Senate Democrats will have to vote on the resolution, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) announced Tuesday it would come to the Senate floor.

Fifteen House Democrats and a several senators, including 2020 presidential hopefuls, have endorsed the proposal.