Youth protesters occupied House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE’s (D-Calif.) office Wednesday afternoon, demanding climate action as a number of fires continue to rage in California.
During the sit-in, the group of 50 activists from the Sunrise Movement demanded the California Democrat move forward with the Green New Deal. The protesters argued that the legislation is desperately needed as the country begins to feel the effects of climate change, citing intensifying wildfires in the senator's state.
The group also momentarily occupied the office of Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFederal watchdog calls on Congress, Energy Dept. to overhaul nuclear waste storage process Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam Republicans caught in California's recall trap MORE (D-Calif.).
“And we think it’s really crucial that we don’t just talk about these wildfires as a natural disaster but a manifestation of the climate crisis and that these are coming as a result of years of negligence to address the climate crisis.”
The protests come nearly a year after activists for the group first occupied Pelosi’s office in November last year along with then-Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSecurity policy expert: Defense industry donations let lawmakers 'ignore public opinion' Do progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery MORE (D-N.Y.).
Ocasio-Cortez earlier this year introduced a Green New Deal resolution in the House that aimed to get the U.S. to net zero emissions by 2030.
While the Green New Deal and the rhetoric surrounding it has made climate change a key issue for Democrats, the bill has stagnated in the House. A similar resolution introduced in the Republican-led Senate failed to pass on a floor vote.
The Sunrise protesters voiced frustration about the level of congressional inaction on climate change so far. Despite Democrats gaining control of the House in 2018, critics have largely been disappointed by the lack of legislation put forward.
Pierce said that while the Green New Deal may not offer immediate action for the fires, it continues to offer Democrats a strong option on climate action, something important looking to 2020.
“I think the Green New Deal is the government agenda we see in a decade-long overhaul. I don’t think I see it as a single policy plan or tunnel vision but as a solution that meets the climate crisis at the scale of the problem by covering all facets of society,” Pierce said.
Adding: "By tackling all those things under one governing agenda, we have the power to really invigorate the base of the Democratic Party, bring in lots of new voters, mobilize the youth and win this election in 2020."