|March 28, 2019|
Senate Democrats form special committee on climate change
|A DAY AFTER A VOTE ON the Green New Deal overwhelmingly failed in the Senate, Democrats signaled they plan to continue pushing for action on climate change on Wednesday with the formation of a Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.|
The group of 10 senators formed the unofficial panel after Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., blocked a resolution to create an official, bipartisan panel on Tuesday before the Green New Deal vote, which Democrats called a "political stunt" by Republicans.
"The committee could be partners with the House committee, and we might actually get something done, not sham votes that everyone knows are a joke, a political joke. And so I am hopeful we can do that," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor of the Senate before the resolution was struck down.
Special committees are often investigative in nature, rather than legislative. The special committee's purpose is "to examine how climate change is affecting the country and the planet and to mobilize action and support for bold climate solutions," according to its website.
It will hold a series of hearings through 2020 and investigate efforts by special interest groups to foster climate change denial. It will also convene meetings and conduct outreach to communities impacted by climate change.
Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii will serve as chairman of the panel.
"With this group, we have the necessary pieces to take this issue seriously," Schatz said at a press conference. "To do real inquiries and real analysis, to work with constituent groups and put ourselves in a position to act."
Schatz is joined by Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Tina Smith of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
"We are already seeing, hearing, feeling and suffering the impacts of climate change with increased flooding, deadly forest fires and super-charged hurricanes fueled by climate change, but Republicans refuse to hold the hearings in Congress and invite the expert testimony to debate the issue," Markey said in a statement. "But no matter what Republicans and President Trump try to defund, delay, or deny, climate change is real and the movement to address it is unstoppable. We have the tools to address this generational challenge, and this new Special Committee on the Climate Crisis can help us build the political will."
In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday unveiled The Climate Action Now Act, a bill aimed at forcing the Trump administration back into the Paris climate agreement, which is composed of 200 countries committed to keeping global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.