Schumer Calls for Bipartisan Panel to Craft Climate Change Legislation

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a news conference at the Capitol on March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution today urging colleagues to create a panel on climate change like the one created by Democrats in the House.

The move comes after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed Tuesday to get Dems on the record soon on the Green New Deal plan to drastically cut emissions.

“The Green New Deal continues to be an interesting discussion for, particularly, Republicans and we will, of course, give our Democratic friends who’ve been advocating this proposal an opportunity to debate it and vote on it on the Senate floor sometime in the next couple of weeks,” McConnell said.

Schumer decried that today as a “political stunt” but said McConnell’s move has unintended consequences:  “For the first time in a long time the Senate is finally debating the issue of climate change — and it’s about time, if you ask me.”

“Climate change is an urgent crisis, an existential threat to our country and our planet. The last four years have been the warmest four years on record. Sea levels are rising. Marine life and fishing communities are being destroyed. Wildfires have roared across the West and more powerful hurricanes have buffeted our coastlines. Over the next few decades, climate change will affect every part of American life: our health, our economy, our national security, even our geography,” Schumer said.

“For the same reason that we dedicate groups of senators to focus on health, national security, the judiciary, agriculture, banking, we should have a bipartisan group of senators who meet to focus on climate change,” he added. “To hold hearings, debate the issue, and to craft, refine, and enact legislation to address this problem.”

“I understand my friends on the other side of the aisle don’t like the Green New Deal. Ok, that’s fine. What’s your plan? Maybe a lot of members think they can get away without having to answer that question. They won’t. They won’t, and that’s why we need a committee focused on this, to bring Democrats and Republicans together on an issue that demands progress. So I will introduce a resolution to create a new committee on climate. Democrats believe this is an issue of surpassing importance. What do our Republican colleagues believe? We hope, sincerely, that our Republican friends will come around and view it the same way.”

McConnell slammed the Green New Deal point-by-point on the Senate floor this morning, adding that “a huge share of the bill would land at the feet of the American middle class.”

“There aren’t enough billionaires, to pay the trillions needed for this massive government plan. Even if Washington decided the IRS should grab every single cent of adjusted gross income above $1,000,000, it would only bring in a little over a tenth of what the ‘Green New Deal’ is estimated to cost annually. In fact, in order to break even on this proposal alone, the federal government would have to take 9 out of every ten dollars that every single American earns,” McConnell said.

“And you’d better believe that families’ last dollar would need to go toward keeping the lights on. By one analysis, middle-class families could see their power bills jump by more than $300 a month under the ‘Green New Deal.’ So, that would take up the last dollar they had left,” he added. “…There certainly is one ‘green’ thing about this sprawling proposal: The huge, unprecedented piles of middle-class families’ money that Democrats are itching to grab.”