Whitehouse: GOP is 'shrinking' from climate change challenge


Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseTech companies grilled over Russian election interference Hitting GOP, Dems pitch raising 401(k) caps Democrats double down on calls for Congress to protect Mueller MORE (D-R.I.) scolded Republicans for failing to come to the Senate floor Monday night to discuss climate change policy.

Whitehouse criticized the "once proud party" for ignoring an invitation from Democrats to debate what he called a serious threat.

"It’s sad to see a once proud political party ignore scientific facts and shrink from serious challenges, and I truly hope that some of my Republican friends will re-engage on this issue before it is too late," Whitehouse said.

Five Senate Democrats invited all 45 Republicans a little over a week ago to come to the floor Monday after hearing that number of Republicans were disappointed when they weren't invited to a climate change all-nighter earlier this year.

Only one Republican senator came to the floor Monday to debate with Democrats, James Inhofe (Okla.), a known climate change skeptic.

Whitehouse did not consider Inhofe as there to seriously discuss the issue.

“Climate change is among the most serious threats facing our environment, our public health, our economy, and our national security, and yet not a single Republican Senator was willing to have a serious discussion about the issue this evening,” Whitehouse said in a statement Monday night. 

"All we heard from the other side of the aisle this evening was outright denial, and then utter silence," he added.

Monday's speeches come on the heels of the administration's latest move to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Last week, President Obama unveiled his signature climate rule, which seeks to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.