Senate Democrats invite GOP to climate debate

 

Senate Democrats are inviting their Republican colleagues to join them Monday for a “robust exchange of views” on climate change.

A group of Democrats sent a letter to all 45 Senate Republicans Friday inviting them to debate climate change on the Senate floor June 9, a spokesman for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Seth Larson, told The Hill.

So far, no Republicans have responded.

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"We earnestly believe that the stakes of failing to exercise American leadership and solve this problem are very high, with ramifications for our health and safety, our economic well-being, our food and water supplies, and our national security and standing," the letter provided to The Hill states.

"We hope you will join us in a sincere discussion," the letter adds.

The invitation comes after President Obama on Monday unveiled proposed EPA rules that serve as the centerpiece of his climate change agenda. The regulations call on the nation's existing power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The proposal, which Republican's have decried as a "war on coal," would likely be at the center of Monday’s debate.

The five Democrats who signed the letter said that they wanted to invite their colleagues to talk climate change after a number of GOP lawmakers said they would have liked an invitation to the all-night discussion that Democrats held in March. 

"For any colleague who felt left out of our climate all-nighter we invite you to come to the floor," the letter states. "We've requested from leadership that time after votes June 9th be reserved to engage in a robust exchange of views."

The event Monday is not intended to be an all-night discussion, though the debate could run into the late evening.

Democrats said Republican senators represent states with coastal cities impacted by rising sea levels, and farmlands hit with floods and droughts, trends that they noted are being exacerbated by changing climate.

A number of Republicans in Congress are skeptical of climate science and fear actions to reduce carbon emissions will be devastating to the economy.