New bipartisan Senate climate caucus aims to take 'politics' out of the topic

New bipartisan Senate climate caucus aims to take 'politics' out of the topic
© Greg Nash

Democratic Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsWhat to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover-up,' 'national disgrace' MORE (Del.) and Republican Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunSenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Impeachment trial begins with furor over rules Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it MORE (Ind.) are rolling out a bipartisan caucus focused on bringing passable climate legislation to the upper chamber.

The Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, launched Wednesday, is largely aimed as a way to let Republican lawmakers become a part of the climate conversation by removing the “politics” of the issue. 

“In its current state, our national conversation on this issue is too polarized, toxic, and unproductive. In this environment, American leadership is sidelined, instead replaced by partisan bickering. To us, this is unacceptable,” the lawmakers wrote in an op-ed for The Hill on Wednesday.

“Our caucus seeks to take the politics out of this important issue. Instead, members will commit to an honest dialogue, through which we can develop solutions that solidify American environmental leadership, promote American workers, and make meaningful progress on protecting our environment.”

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The House has a Climate Solutions Caucus that was formed earlier this year by Reps. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchBipartisan lawmakers condemn Iran, dispute State Department on number of protesters killed Bipartisan lawmakers introduce amendment affirming US commitment to military aid to Israel Ethics sends memo to lawmakers on SCIF etiquette MORE (D-Fla.) and Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis Rooney2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week NY Times's Haberman: Trump 'surprised' Iranian strike wasn't 'more of a unifying event' MORE (R-Fla.).

As the issue of climate change has grown in the national dialogue in part due to a series of alarming international scientific reports, Republican rhetoric on the issue has also shifted.

The caucus now will offer members of the GOP along with Senate Democrats a chance to work together to pass legislation to address climate change, the two lawmakers say of the committee.

“We may seem an unlikely pair to team up on this effort. We come from different political parties and represent different parts of the country, but we both recognize the importance of American leadership in addressing our changing climate,” the two write.

According to the op-ed, the lawmakers will largely look to technological developments and business for answers, pointing to innovations in energy efficiency at manufacturers and in the agricultural sector as well as carbon neutral pledges already being adopted individually across a number of industries.

“Congress can build on these efforts, giving American businesses the tools they need to get there,” the lawmakers wrote.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Senate blocks push to subpoena Bolton in impeachment trial Impeachment trial begins with furor over rules MORE (R-Ala.) has said she intends to join the caucus. Utah Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Senate blocks push to subpoena Bolton in impeachment trial Impeachment trial begins with furor over rules MORE (R) has also indicated he plans to join the caucus, according to three sources with knowledge. 

The caucus sponsors say the groups will be made of an equal number of members on both side of the aisle and will only introduce legislation agreed to unanimously. The caucus also plans to hold hearings with experts.

“We will meet regularly and convene experts from across the political spectrum to discuss ideas such as developing economic incentives to reduce emissions, promoting the role of agriculture as a climate solution, and ensuring that any energy transition protects American energy consumers while supporting energy security and workforce development,” the op-ed reads.

Both Coons’s and Braun’s states rely heavily on the agriculture industry.

This story was updated at 3:00 p.m.