Energy & Environment

House Republicans accuse Dems of ramming through climate bill

Greg Nash

GOP lawmakers are crying foul this week over a push by Democrats to quickly advance climate change legislation through committee so that it’s ready for a House floor vote.

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are opposing the markup of a bill introduced last week by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) that would bind the Trump administration to uphold the climate goals agreed to in the Paris climate accord under former President Obama.

GOP lawmakers say Democrats leapfrogged a subcommittee markup and a hearing for the measure, H.R. 9, to expedite its approval.

{mosads}“It’s unfortunate your subcommittee missed out on an opportunity to mark up that measure. That would be the regular order that you’re proud of and that I’m proud of,” said Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), the top Republican on the committee, at a hearing Tuesday. “Instead it’s going to be taken straight to full committee and straight to the floor to meet some arbitrary deadline.”

The panel is expected to vote on the measure as early as Wednesday evening.

Some Republicans argue there should have been a hearing on Castor’s bill before lawmakers vote on it.

“No hearings on Green New Deal. No hearings on H.R. 9. For what many on the other side consider to be the biggest existential threat to our existence, they seem very comfortable abandoning the legislative process and ignoring input from all involved and impacted,” said a senior House Republican aide.

Castor, who heads the House’s new Select Committee on Climate Crisis, said when she introduced the bill that Congress has “a moral obligation” to tackle climate change, framing the legislation as the first step in a much broader Democratic effort to address the global crisis.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) brushed off Republican complaints Tuesday, saying the House had already held a hearing on the Paris climate agreement and therefore didn’t need another hearing on the topic focused on the bill.

In an attempt to influence the timing of a vote on Castor’s bill, Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) offered a last-minute amendment Tuesday night that would substitute the legislative text with the entire Green New Deal resolution.

He also criticized how quickly H.R. 9 was getting a committee vote.

“The committees have been bypassed. They are bringing messaging bills to the floor and that’s all they are. They are written by the Democratic leadership and they don’t reflect the views of their members,” Flores said.

Neither Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have called for a vote on the Green New Deal in the House, with each suggesting Democrats are shifting their focus on climate change.

That focus includes the Climate Action Now Act from Castor.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, told reporters that swift action is needed.

“We have not visited this issue in 10 years, so I think there’s a need for us to be somewhat robust in our attempts to get the ball rolling on climate response, climate science,” Tonko said.

“No one expected the kind of outcome with the renewable situation, very affordable. No one expected that innovation would come in that rapidly. And the economy is stronger, so there’s reasons to support moving fast,” he added. “We lost a decade, so, you know, the attempt here is to go at kind of an aggressive pace.” 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bill Flores Climate change Frank Pallone Jr. Greg Walden Kathy Castor Nancy Pelosi Paul Tonko

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