Senate Dems push climate change amendment

Senate Democrats are attempting to force a vote on climate change through an amendment to the defense authorization bill.

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Regulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections MORE’s (D-R.I.) amendment calls for the U.S. to “assess, plan for, and mitigate the security and strategic implications of climate change” out of concern for national security.

It is unclear whether the amendment will surface on the floor as senators work to complete the sweeping defense policy bill as soon as Tuesday.

But its submission shows that Democrats might be looking for chances to put Republicans on the record on climate change, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Many scientists have avoided saying climate change directly caused Hurricane Sandy. Numerous scientists have said, however, that the effects of climate change — notably, rising sea levels and warmer waters — contributed to the storm’s intensity and impact.

The amendment would confront the GOP on the nexus of climate change and national security.

A significant number of Republicans question widely accepted scientific opinions on global warming and the extent of humans' contribution through greenhouse gas emissions.

At their convention in August, Republicans adopted a platform that criticized the White House National Security Strategy in 2010 for saying, “The danger from climate change is real, urgent, and severe.”

The platform said that such a position, “subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy, and international health issues, and elevates ‘climate change’ to the level of a ‘severe threat’ equivalent to foreign aggression.’”

Whitehouse’s amendment, S.A. 3181, cites the National Security Strategy’s climate change warning. It also mentions the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which outlined climate change as a national security threat.

Seth Larson, Whitehouse’s spokesman, touted the amendment.

“Senator Whitehouse is deeply concerned about the effects climate change is having on our world, and looks for every opportunity to raise awareness of those effects. He felt that the debate over the defense authorization bill was a good opportunity to discuss these effects within the context of our national security, and to highlight the real risks that global climate change is creating for our armed services,” Larson said in a Monday statement.

Several of the amendment’s nine Democratic sponsors — including Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerKamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response Billionaire Steyer to push for Dem House push MORE (Calif.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion MORE (Ore.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezJustice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case DACA is neither bipartisan nor in America's interest Senate DACA deal picks up GOP supporters MORE (N.J.) — represent coastal states.

They, along with Whitehouse, have been vocal about the effects rising sea levels and warmer water temperatures associated with climate change have on their constituents.

Those warnings grew more acute after Sandy, which has destroyed tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure and personal property.

In a floor speech last month, Whitehouse commented that events like Sandy will become more frequent "if we do not recognize the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and the need to prepare our infrastructure."

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinWashington puts Ethiopia's human rights abusers on notice Overnight Defense: Mattis vows Dreamers in military won't be deported | Pentagon unsure if military parade will be in Washington | Dem bill would block funds for parade Dems introduce bills to block funds for Trump's proposed parade MORE (D-Md.), whose state was hit by Sandy, told The Hill last month that Senate Democrats would “use every opportunity we can” to secure a vote on climate change.

This post was updated at 6:27 a.m. on Dec. 4