At last count before the government shutdown, House Republicans had voted 41 times to defund Obamacare.

None of the bills had a chance in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where the Majority Leader called the Republicans' efforts "a waste of time." And that was one of the nicer things said about the onslaught of GOP Obamacare bills that eventually led to the government shutting down.

So is there a proxy for this type of legislative repetition on the left? If we're talking about using a bill as leverage to shut down the government, then no. But everyone puts out "messaging" bills that they know aren't going anywhere.

One good example of this from Democrats is the national renewable energy standard (RES).

It's a policy that has almost no chance of passing the House of Representatives, but it keeps getting introduced anyway.

Earlier this week, cousin-Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Tom Udall (D-NM) reintroduced a bill that would require the nation to procure 25 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025. The Udalls have been championing a national renewables target since they were both in the House in 2002, but the policy continually fails to gain traction in Congress. They came close in 2007, but eventually failed to get the votes needed to pass.

Since getting elected to their respective Senate seats in 2008, the Udall cousins have tried a couple more times to get a vote on an RES. This latest bill is their third attempt.

Just yesterday, newly elected Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced his own RES bill that also includes a national energy efficiency target, likely his first of many attempts in the Senate.

The bills have received minimal coverage in the press due to their perceived lack of traction in the conservative House. 

But advocates of the law see it as a messaging opportunity, not a real legislative push.

"Good for these guys for continuing to introduce this and keeping this conversation in the Senate. It won't see the light of day in the House. But at least we're continuing that conversation," said Katherine Hamilton, founder of 38 North Solutions, speaking on the Energy Gang podcast.

Although these RES bills are mostly designed for messaging, they have historically pulled in support from Republicans in the Senate -- even those who don't support broader climate legislation.

In 2010, conservative then-Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) supported an RES, saying it was "an important step toward a cleaner energy future, but without the job-killing provisions that come with cap and tax."

Some leading conservatives like Brownback may support a national target in theory. However, neither recent RES bill has had a Republican co-sponsor.

Comparing this latest renewable energy legislation to Obamacare defunding efforts breaks down pretty quickly. These bills stand for something, not against something. They are designed to create something new, not dismantle something that's been created. 

If anything, the failed effort by conservative groups to kill state-level renewable energy targets is a much better comparison to the never-ending series of failed health care bills.

But a messaging bill is a messaging bill. And that's exactly what national RES legislation will likely be for the foreseeable future.

Watch Senator Mark Udall urge the Senate to pass RES legistion. Can you guess the date of this video?