GOP rep: Parties ‘have to come together’ on climate change

GOP rep: Parties ‘have to come together’ on climate change
© Greg Nash

A Republican lawmaker pushing to put a tax on carbon dioxide emissions said that bipartisan cooperation is the only route to significant climate change legislation.

Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Ensuring quality health care for those with intellectual disabilities and autism House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad MORE (R-Pa.), one of only two lawmakers formally supporting Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloPelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's Morning Report - Congress returns: What to expect Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback MORE’s (R-Fla.) carbon tax bill, said Thursday at an event hosted by The Hill that partisan climate proposals can never get the support needed to pass through Congress.

“It’s not a question of ‘can,’ the parties have to come together,” Fitzpatrick told The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack during the climate event hosted alongside the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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“These purely partisan solutions are never going to work, because you’re never going to get the votes you need to pass. We’re trying to get something across the finish line to advance the goal,” Fitzpatrick said, adding that he’s always suspicious of partisan proposals to solve major problems.

“That tells you something right off the bat. If it’s a single-party solution, why is that the case?”

Fitzpatrick has set himself apart as one of a handful of current Republicans in Congress to back a proposal to punish companies for their emissions.

The Modernizing America with Rebuilding to Kick-start the Economy of the Twenty-first Century with a Historic Infrastructure-Centered Expansion Act, or MARKET CHOICE Act, would put a $24-per-metric-ton tax on carbon emissions and put most of the money toward infrastructure.

Curbelo and Fitzpatrick introduced the bill days after the House easily passed a GOP-backed nonbinding resolution to disavow a carbon tax and declare it detrimental to the country.

“Carlos and I stand for something very different: We’re trying to be that voice inside the GOP caucus to advance common-sense, bipartisan solutions to what he and I believe is a very significant threat,” the freshman lawmaker said.

Thanks in part to Pennsylvania’s court-ordered redistricting, Fitzpatrick is one of the most vulnerable GOP lawmakers in this year’s midterm election. Democrat Scott Wallace has polled very closely to Fitzpatrick, and Democratic leaders think he can take the seat.

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to 'pack' Supreme Court Senate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (D-R.I.), speaking with Cusack after Fitzpatrick, blamed corporations for the general GOP opposition to climate policies and the failure to pass significant emissions legislation.

“The general posture of corporate America — at least in the United States Senate, where I am — is still violently hostile to movement on climate change,” he said.

Whitehouse said fossil fuel interests are actively pushing against climate policies through lobbying and campaign spending, while companies with progressive internal environmental policies are doing little to help.

“And that, I think, is the crux of our problem,” he said.