The Senate has had a few marathon days as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants the upper chamber to plow through as many judicial nominees as possible and Republicans have kept the upper chamber in session to fill up the maximum debate time per nominee — in protest of Reid dropping the nuclear option.
Democrats have taken advantage of the floor time, too, as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) did late Wednesday with a posterboard bearing a picture of the Earth and the words “Time to wake up.”
“This is the 52nd consecutive week we’re in session that I have come to the Floor to ask us, please, for Lord’s sake, to wake up to the damage carbon pollution is already doing to our atmosphere, oceans, and climate; and to look ahead, to use our God-given sense, and to plan for what is so obviously coming,” Whitehouse said.
“I have, I hope, to anyone listening with their logic turned on, thoroughly rebutted the deniers’ phony arguments against solving carbon pollution, whether those arguments purported to be based in science, or religion, or economics, or our competitiveness,” he continued. “I’ve done my best to expose the calculated campaign of lies that we’re up against, and the vast scandalous apparatus of phony organizations and engineered messages that are designed to propagate those lies. I’ve traced the connections back to — of course — the big carbon polluters and their billionaire owners. And I’ve been obliged to point out that the money of those big polluters and billionaires floods this Chamber, that their lobbyists prowl the outer halls, and that to a sad and disappointing degree this Congress is bought and paid for by that polluter influence.”
Whitehouse said at this point it needs to be considered “whether, as an institution, Congress has just become completely irresponsible.”
“Maybe this Congress just can’t operate as an institution at an intelligent level. Some Congresses are going to be smarter and more responsible than others — that’s just the natural order of variation. Some Congress is going to be the sorriest Congress ever. Maybe we’re it,” he said. “Some organizations, like NASA, for instance, are very smart. That’s why NASA is driving a rover around on the surface of Mars right now. That is a seriously smart organization.”
Whitehouse went on to cite voluminous statistics about global warming, adding “it would not just be wrong, it would be irresponsible to deny what those simple measurements and clear principles tell us.”
“But we do. We do. We deny it. Congress won’t wake up and address this problem: like those monkeys: see no carbon, hear no carbon, speak no carbon,” the senator said. “…It is a harsh judgment that this body is an irresponsible failure. But on climate, this Congress got it the old-fashioned way — it earned it.”
He then went on to quote Pope Francis extensively — not about climate change per se, but about the beauty of the environment God has created and man’s stewardship of nature.
“What is our answer to the Pope, to this great Christian leader? In Congress, it’s the monkey answer: hear no carbon, see no carbon, speak no carbon,” Whitehouse said. “We still have time to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. We can actually do it in painless ways. We can even do it in advantageous ways, in ways that will boost our economy. But we have got to do it. We have got to wake up. We simply have got to wake up.”