Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — House Republican tries to force Green New Deal vote | 'Awkward' hearing to vet Interior nominee and watchdog | House panel approves bill to stop drilling in Arctic refuge
HOUSE REPUBLICAN PUSHES FOR GREEN NEW DEAL VOTE: GOP Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Conservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question GOP moves to block provision banning use of Defense funds for border wall MORE (Ga.) on Wednesday introduced a discharge petition aimed at circumventing Democratic leadership and forcing a vote on the progressive-backed Green New Deal.
Hice, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he is hoping to gain at least 20 Democratic signatures to reach the 218 needed to utilize the procedural tool.
"I'm not gonna put any Democrats on the spot right now, I've had some positive conversations but we'll see," Hice told The Hill. "There are 92 Democrats that have co-sponsored the Green New Deal so hopefully some of them will come on board and call for a vote."
The politics at play: The move is the latest ploy by the GOP to force Democrats to go on the record on a controversial issue -- a tactic that could place swing district members on the other side of the aisle in a difficult position.
Nearly 100 Democrats in the lower chamber have signed on as co-sponsors to the Green New Deal, a resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezIllinois GOP group shares, then deletes meme labeling minority congresswomen 'Jihad Squad' Trump's calculated climate of fear Two Democrats vow to press forward on Trump impeachment MORE (D-N.Y.) that aims to build a green energy-focused economy by transitioning the U.S. electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy.
The climate plan came into the spotlight with the meteoric rise of Ocasio-Cortez as a growing progressive force. Nearly every 2020 Democratic White House hopeful has embraced the tenets of the resolution in some way.
The plan has also divided Democrats, however, with some taking issue with its broadness as well as concerns over costs to implement.
Dems push back: Ocasio-Cortez and other backers of the House resolution have not called for a floor vote and have instead said it's messaging focused and was never meant to be passed.
She has called Republican plans a political maneuver.
"This is very similar, this is a mirroring tactic to what [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] was doing in the Senate. To not hold a single hearing just shows that they aren't taking this problem seriously," Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill.
McConnell forced a vote on the resolution in March, a political move meant to highlight a divide among Democrats over the issue.
Despite spearheading the efforts on the proposal, Ocasio-Cortez encouraged Democrats in the upper chamber to vote present as a show of togetherness. Progressives blasted McConnell for engaging in political theater and argued the proposal warranted a hearing. It ultimately failed to advance in the Senate.
Now Republicans are attempting to force a similar tactic in the House.
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HEARING WILL VET INTERIOR LAWYER... AND THE OFFICIAL TO INVESTIGATE HIM: A Senate panel will hold a confirmation hearing Thursday for two top posts at the Department of Interior: the agency's top lawyer and the inspector general who is likely to investigate him amid the legal and ethical issues facing Secretary David Bernhardt.
Both nominees -- Daniel Jorjani, already the Trump administration's top lawyer for the department, and Mark Lee Greenblatt, who works in the Commerce Department's inspector general's office -- are scheduled to appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where they will be seated next to each other at the witness table.
"It'll be as interesting or as awkward as the senators choose to make it," said Aaron Weiss, deputy director at The Center for Western Priorities, a public lands advocacy group. "Daniel Jorjani has been at David Bernhardt's side the entire time. So all the investigations into Bernhardt touch Jorjani some way."
"Part of the irony is that Jorjani will be up there testifying, sitting next to the guy whose job it will be to investigate Jorjani," he added.
In for a grilling: Jorjani will likely face a long line of questioning about his current role as principal deputy solicitor. With no solicitor confirmed during Trump's tenure, Jorjani has been the top lawyer for the department, advising both Bernhardt and former Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkePuerto Rican police fire tear gas at crowds protesting governor Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West MORE on a number of legal and ethical issues.
He has also served as the chief public records officer for the department.
Anne Weismann, chief FOIA counsel for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said having a top department lawyer oversee records requests is highly unusual.
"Agencies typically strive to have a line of separation between political level people and the FOIA processing staff," she said, adding that doing otherwise can taint the process. "We're already talking about an agency that's taking affirmative steps to hide their actions from the public."
Interior's side: Faith Vander Voort, a spokeswoman for Interior, said the positions were combined "to demonstrate the Department's commitment to meeting the requirement that the American people have access to information regarding how the government conducts official business."
HOUSE PANEL VOTES TO STOP OIL DRILLING IN ARCTIC REFUGE: A House panel approved a bill Wednesday that would block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), advancing a key Democratic priority.
The bill approved by Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee repeals a controversial provision included in President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE's 2017 tax law.
The provision opened up the sought-after Alaskan land to oil and gas drilling, prompting backlash from environmentalists who have long used protecting the area as a rallying cry.
"This bill reflects a simple proposition, and that is there are some places too wild, too important, too special to be spoiled by oil and gas development. The Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain is one of those special places," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Anyone for tennis? Washington Kastles Charity Classic returns this week Dem tensions snag defense bill MORE (D-Calif.), said in a statement.
"In the face of climate change, let's not mess up one of the few good things that are still going."
What's next: The bill not heads to the House floor for a vote, though it is unclear if such a vote might take place.
If passed, the bill would face significant hurdles in the Republican-led Senate, which committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said snuck drilling provisions into the tax bill.
"We have to provide the American people with a choice, a bet to save ANWR. I don't know how [Republicans] are going to defend it. They did it in the middle of the night; they stuck it to a bill it didn't belong in. No hearings, nothing," Grijalva said. "They did it in a very sneaky way, underhanded way, so what we did today was out in the open, we had a good debate about it."
ON TAP TOMORROW:
The House is expected to vote Thursday to pass the Climate Action Now Act. The bill is anticipated to be the first climate bill passed in the lower chamber in a decade. It would bind the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing examining the
nominations of Daniel Jorjani to be Interior Department solicitor, and Mark Greenblatt to be Interior Department inspector general.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
-Your gas stove is bad for you and the planet, The New York Times reports
-Gas that makes a mountain breathe fire is turning up around the world, The New York Times reports
-UK Parliament declares 'climate emergency', CNN reports
Stories from Wednesday...
-Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingYoung Turks reporter tricks Steve King into tweeting about 'A Few Good Men' villain Holocaust survivor who offered to tour Auschwitz with Ocasio-Cortez calls for her to 'be removed from Congress' Liz Cheney hits back at Ocasio-Cortez over concentration camp comments: 'This isn't model Congress' MORE: One 'good side' of climate change could be shrinking deserts
-'Awkward' hearing will vet Interior lawyer and the official slated to investigate him
-GOP rep moves to force Green New Deal vote
-House panel votes to stop oil drilling in Arctic refuge
-Maine becomes first state to ban sale of Styrofoam
-EPA says weed-killing chemical does not cause cancer, contradicting juries
-Scientists say world's largest ice shelf is melting 10 times faster than average