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Democrats say increased recognition of climate change puts more pressure on GOP

Democrats say increased recognition of climate change puts more pressure on GOP
© Greg Nash

Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday said the threats posed by climate change are starting to resonate more with both the business community and congressional Republicans.

Speaking at The Hill's "Climate Under Threat” event, Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseFor a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure MORE (D-R.I.) said public opinion polls are showing gradual support on the other side of the aisle for taking action on climate change.

Republicans who have traditionally been less in favor of major climate legislation, Whitehouse said, are starting to accept that climate change denial is not a position they can maintain long term.

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“I think you see Republicans increasingly understanding that their climate denial posture was completely untenable, is completely untenable, and they're trying to figure out how to work their way through it,” Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told The Hill's Steve Clemons.

The remarks from Whitehouse come a month after the United States officially rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement as part of President BidenJoe BidenGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal Obama, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley team up to urge communities of color to get coronavirus vaccine Biden to hold second meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure MORE’s initiatives to directly address the effects of climate change on the country. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE had pulled the country out of the agreement, arguing it harmed businesses and workers.

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Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeHillicon Valley: Twitter will not allow Trump account archive on platform | Commerce Dept. still weighing approach to Huawei, TikTok | Dating apps work to reinvent amid COVID-19 pandemic Key House leader to press for inclusion of cybersecurity in infrastructure bill Biden risks first major fight with progressives MORE (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said addressing climate change now with bold action will spawn new industries that will bring new jobs and economic opportunities. She argued that a forthcoming infrastructure package needs to incorporate clean energy provisions.

“So there's a lot that we can be doing right now,” she said at the event sponsored by the embassy of the United Arab Emirates. “Members recognize that a 21st century infrastructure really means resiliency, it means that we have to be good stewards, and that means addressing climate change.”

Clarke said she recognizes the transition away from fossil fuels will not be easy and will require building up and training a workforce. Accomplishing that, she said, will require bipartisanship. Republicans, however, have been reluctant to include climate change provisions in infrastructure legislation, preferring to focus instead on projects like roads and bridges and even broadband expansion.

“We're beginning to see some recognition of the crises before us, particularly with respect to climate, the costly nature of it in terms of lives, livelihood, property,” Clarke said. “And so I anticipate that it's going to take more conversation, but I think that the door isn't shut to that conversation.”