WASHINGTON — Rebuffed on climate change by their Republican colleagues, Senate Democrats — including Colorado’s Michael Bennet — are launching their own committee to tackle the issue.
After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused an attempt by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to create a bipartisan special climate change committee in the chamber, Democrats on Wednesday announced that they would assemble their own panel to hold hearings and issue findings on climate change.
Bennet is one of 10 Senate Democrats on the Special Committee on the Climate Crisis that will be led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
“For many reasons — most of all, the corruption of money in our politics — Republicans in Washington refuse to treat climate change as a serious issue,” Bennet said in a statement. “Our children’s future can’t become another casualty of Washington’s mindless partisanship. We need to construct enduring solutions to climate change, and this committee is a step forward in accomplishing that goal.”
Senate Democrats formally announced the creation of the new special committee at a press conference Wednesday morning, the day after Senate Republicans uniformly opposed the adoption of Democrats’ sweeping Green New Deal resolution to combat climate change. Most Senate Democrats, including Bennet, voted “present” on the measure, which they dubbed a “sham” vote aimed at dividing Democrats on the issue.
The panel will serve as a messaging platform for Democrats, but it won’t have any legislative authority. A select committee on climate change that was launched by House Democrats this year also doesn’t have legislative authority, but it does have Republican members.
Also on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse joined other House Democrats in unveiling climate legislation aimed at preventing the United States from following through on President Trump’s promise to exit the Paris climate treaty.
The measure also calls for the president to issue a public plan for the country to achieve an economy-wide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that are 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
“The administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords and halt progress being made forward is severely detrimental to the planet and to the next generation,” Neguse said at a press conference announcing the bill.
“We are the only country to reject this global pact. We can and we must do better. Now is not the time for ignorance, it is not the time for shortcuts, it is the time for action. We must act and we must act on climate now.”
Neguse, a freshman, was appointed to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created this Congress.
Pelosi said Wednesday that this bill is “only step one,” and that action on climate change is a Congress-wide initiative and a moral issue. In 2009, under her leadership, the House passed sweeping climate legislation that ultimately died in the Senate.
“If you do believe, as I do, that this is God’s creation, this planet, we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it,” she said. “But even if you don’t subscribe to that, you know we have a moral responsibility to future generations to pass on this planet in a responsible, responsible way.”