Schumer Announces Resolution To Establish A Senate Select Committee On The Climate Change Crisis, Strongly Urges Rejection Of Chad Readler’s Nomination To The Sixth Circuit

March 6, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today on the Senate floor announced  a new resolution to establish a Senate Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and strongly urged colleagues to reject Chad Readler’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, maybe Leader McConnell doesn’t realize this, but because of the political stunt vote he is planning on his version of the green new deal, 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.

So if ever there were an issue that demanded a particular focus from this chamber, it’s climate change. That’s why today I’m introducing a resolution to create a select committee on climate change to correspond with the House committee created this year for the same purpose.

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. 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.

Yet, we’re still trying to get the Republican leadership, and Republicans in the Senate in general, to answer three key questions. I ask once again. I’ve asked them every day: 1 Leader McConnell, do you believe climate change is real?; 2. Leader McConnell, does human activity contribute to it?; and 3. Should Congress take immediate action to address it?

Our Republican friends are silent. Silent. Some have argued it’s because they get so much money from the oil industry. Some have argued because they don’t believe in science. But it’s amazing that they can’t even answer a simple question that’s one of the leading questions of our time, when two-thirds of all Americans believe that climate change is real and urgent.

Now we’re not trying to lock our Republican friends into any one or two solutions.

We’re not saying let’s do it our way or the highway.

As a first step, we want Republicans, particularly their Leader, to agree with us that climate change is a problem that must be addressed. And what do we get from our Republican friends? Either silence or a stunt. Putting on the floor a bill they won’t vote for? That doesn’t say anything. That doesn’t address the problem. It’s a stunt. That’s all they can do. They can’t come forward. The single positive thing to say or do. So they put a bill on the floor that they won’t vote for. What a ruse. What a mocking of democracy the way the founding fathers wanted it to work. It’s a disgrace.

So that’s why we need a committee. At least let them go forward with a committee where Democrats and Republicans can discuss the issue, debate the issue, and perhaps come up with some bipartisan solutions. So that’s what we hope to achieve when we come to floor and ask our friends sincerely if they agree with those three items.

Because climate change will not wait for the partisanship that so often defines this chamber to ebb. It will not pause while one party is in power. Its impacts will not discriminate between red states and blue states. It’s time to put our party affiliations aside and agree that we face a major crisis, caused by humans, and we have an immediate and glaring need to address it.

Now, on Readler. Later this afternoon, the Senate will vote on the confirmation of Chad Readler to the Sixth Circuit. As this chamber is, by now, no doubt aware, Mr. Readler was the chief cook and bottle washer of the Trump Administration’s decision not to defend the health care law in court.

In a brief submitted to the court on behalf of the Dept. of Justice, Mr. Readler said that protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional. My Republican friends, do you want to vote for a judge who says protecting preexisting conditions, which affect 100 million Americans, are unconstitutional. Well that is what you’re going to do if you vote for Mr. Readler. Even my Republican colleague Sen. Alexander, who oversees the committee that created these protections, called his arguments “as farfetched as I’ve ever heard.”

Can you imagine the lack of compassion it takes to argue that 130 million Americans, with cancers, respiratory ailments, all the way down to asthma, don’t deserve the guarantee of affordable health care? Can you imagine voting for a man that is so cold hearted that he doesn’t protect a mother who has a daughter or son with cancer, and the insurance companies cuts them off, and they have to watch their child suffer? Will our Republican colleagues actually vote for a nominee who feels that way – not just in his word, but in his action? It’s going to be remembered – this vote – for a long time. A long, long time.

Can you imagine sitting at your desk, on an average workday, and arguing for a policy with such catastrophic consequences for one-third of your country?

I, for one, cannot. But that’s what Mr. Readler did. And the very next day after he wrote that brief, he was nominated for this lifetime appointment on the bench.

Go figure. Only in the Trump Administration could you be rewarded for your efforts to take away health care from average Americans. That’s exactly what happened.

Yesterday, regrettably, the Senate proceeded to Mr. Readler’s nomination over the objections of one of home state Senators, Sen. Brown. Republican Leaders are so eager to confirm judges that they’re willing to break the blue slip tradition even when the nominee is the literal encapsulation of their party’s most heartless policy. I might add, a policy that helped them lose the House and could help them lose future elections – if they only care about that.

But Republican Senators still have a chance to reject the cynicism behind Mr. Readler’s nomination. They’ll have the chance to stand up for healthcare.

I would ask my colleagues: is the confirmation of one circuit judge really worth endorsing the position that our health care law should be repealed and Americans with pre-existing conditions should not be protected?

The answer to that question ought to be obvious – and I urge my Republican colleagues to vote no on Mr. Readler’s nomination this afternoon.