House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to create a new congressional committee to address climate change is clearly a concession to progressive Democratic representatives whose votes she will need. However, the move is generating even more disunity in the Democratic Party as progressive lawmakers fume about the rules that will govern the newly-created committee.
There are several reasons why progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are unhappy with the way the newly formed Climate Change committee will operate. One reason is that the committee will have far less power than other committees in the House of Representatives. It will not have subpoena power, leaving it unable to force witnesses to testify or legally demand documents that members feel they may need to forward their agenda. It will be able to draft legislation but won’t have the authority to forward bills.
What is more, Rep. Kathy Castor, who has been chosen by Rep. Pelosi to be the chairwoman of the newly formed committee, has already made it clear that members who join won’t be forced to turn down donations from fossil fuel companies even though she has committed to doing so herself. In fact, the committee would have even less power than a similar committee the Democrats set up when they last controlled the House. That committee, which was later disbanded in 2011 when Republicans regained control over the House of Representatives, did have subpoena power even though it could not advance bills.
Another problem progressives have with the new committee is that, overall, it falls far short of their demands. Many far-left activists were hoping that the House of Representatives would set up a committee dedicated to advancing the “Green New Deal” that many progressives have recently been pushing on the campaign trail. Such a deal seeks to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in the United States by the year 2030. Additionally, it calls for a federal jobs guarantee as well as government investment in eco-friendly energy technology.
While some aspiring Democrat presidential candidates such as Sen. Cory Booker have embraced the “Green New Deal” as the future of the Democrat Party, most senior Democratic politicians are still wary of the plan and are either refusing to back it or simply ignoring it outright. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Democratic representatives are focusing on using their new-found majority in the House of Representatives to attack President Trump and harass his cabinet members.
Naturally, not everyone is displeased with the creation of the new committee. The decision to form the new committee was praised by not only various Democrat, lawmakers but also the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Resources Defense Council. However, there are also plenty of activists and newly-elected progressive lawmakers who don’t see the new committee as the solution they were hoping for. Many of these people feel that climate change should be considered a national emergency given the fact that a recent UN report stated that the effects of climate change will be irreversible by the year 2030 if nations don’t take drastic action. These individuals are calling for drastic action without considering the fact that such action would most likely cause serious problem for the economy and the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans.
At present, it seems that the Democratic Party is eager to be seen as the party that supports action to prevent “Climate Change” without having to take drastic measures to change its existing policy stances. While this approach has worked well for party leadership and voters in the past, it is unlikely to continue working well in the present or the future.
Progressive activists who have made their voices heard by electing progressive House of Representative members won’t settle for a half-hearted approach. Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s creation of a climate change committee with little actual authority is likely to widen the rift between moderate Democrats and those who are moving further left and urging others to do the same.
~ Liberty Planet