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 CoonsVoting rights, public health officials roll out guidelines to protect voters from COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill Warren's VP bid faces obstacle: Her state's Republican governor MORE (Del.) and Republican Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunGOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal Republicans introduce bill to create legal 'safe harbor' for gig companies during the pandemic 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 DeutchHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Judge rules Florida can't block felons from registering to vote because of unpaid fines Trump taps members of Congress to advise on reopening MORE (D-Fla.) and Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyHouse holds first-ever proxy votes during pandemic Dozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes 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 MurkowskiOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas MORE (R-Ala.) has said she intends to join the caucus. Utah Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCongress flying blind: Why now is the time to revive the Office of Technology Assessment Trump asserts his power over Republicans Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight 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.