Rep. Rob Bishop. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

A top Republican House lawmaker equated the Green New Deal with genocide on Thursday morning.

Driving the news: Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the ideas behind the progressive policy are "tantamount to genocide. That may be an overstatement but not by a whole lot," Bishop said at a press conference Thursday morning on Capitol Hill.

Reality check: The Green New Deal is not at all related to genocide, which is defined as "the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation." Instead, it's a sweeping progressive goal, supported by prominent freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and many Democrats, of reducing greenhouse gas emissions along with other policies, like a federal jobs guarantee and universal healthcare.

Between the lines: Bishop may have been referring to what Republicans say would be skyrocketing energy costs, which could make it more difficult for people to afford electricity.

The intrigue: I caught up with Bishop after the press conference to ask him to elaborate on his comments. Here’s our exchange.

  • Axios: Genocide is defined as “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation." How is the Green New Deal like genocide?
  • Bishop: I’m an ethnic. I’m a westerner.
  • Axios: And you think the Green New Deal is going to kill you?
  • Bishop: If you actually implement everything they want to. Killing would be positive if you implement everything the Green New Deal actually wants to. That’s why the the Green New Deal is not ready for prime time.

Bottom line: Genocide has nothing to do with this debate, so invoking the term could further inflame the already deep partisan divide over climate change.

Go deeper: House GOP pushes back against Green New Deal

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