Schumer Floor Remarks Calling For The Creation Of A Bipartisan Select Committee On The Climate Crisis

March 26, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor calling for the creation of a bipartisan Senate select committee on the climate crisis. Senator Barraso (R-WY) objected. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Thank you. First I thank my colleague from Wyoming. Now he knows why I’ve said bring it on. We are finally getting even people like the Senator from Wyoming to admit that climate change is real, it’s caused by human activity, and we should do something about it. And if we could have an open debate on climate change that would be great.

That’s not what’s happening today. The Senator from Wyoming talks about the contradictions of the senator outside. How about the contradictions of the Republican Party and the senators here? Putting a bill on the floor that they’re going to vote no on. Let’s put the bill that the Senator from Wyoming asks for and let there be an open amendment process, and let’s see where people fall. All we are asking for is not a sham vote, where every person who put the bill up on the floor are voting no because they don’t want to have a debate. But rather, a real discussion and real debate and real amendments.

And so I would say this, Madam President. Earlier today, even better than the Senator from Wyoming finally admitting climate change is real and caused by human activity, the Republican Leader did when asked by the press at his gathering. The whole plan of the Republican Leader here, is backfiring. We want a discussion on climate. We haven’t had one major bill on the real issues of climate come to the floor, led by the Leader where we can have open debate. Not one.

So now we’re finally beginning to debate it. That is great. We’re not going to stand for sham bills that the other side is all voting no on. They know what a trick and joke and sham that is. So do all the American people. But we are finally talking about the issue and that is great. Because climate is not a joke. It’s not a hoax. It’s a crisis. And that’s why we’re doing these things.

So right now, Madam President, here’s something else we could do. Let’s see where our Republican colleagues are if they want to have a real debate. I am calling for the creation of a Senate select committee on climate change. It’s a crisis. Ask the farmers in Iowa and Nebraska and Kansas if they think it’s a crisis. Ask the people who have been subject to so many changes in the weather because the globe is heating up. They believe it’s a crisis. The very least we can do is do what the House did and set up a bipartisan select committee on climate change.

The committee could be partners with the House committee, and we might actually get something done, not sham votes that everyone knows are a joke, a political joke. And so I am hopeful we can do that.

The reason for the select committee is clear: if there ever were an issue that demanded focus from this chamber, this is it. Climate change is an existential threat to our country and our planet.

The last four years have been the warmest on record. Sea levels are rising. Marine life and fishing communities are being destroyed. Record flooding is inundating parts of the country, most recently the Midwest, and more and more powerful hurricanes have buffeted our coasts. Over next decade, climate change will continue to negatively impact every part of American life: our health, our economy, our national security, even our geography – and the threats will only grow.

So we can’t run into our ideological corners anymore. I am gratified to hear a growing number of Republicans admit it’s real; admit it’s caused by human activity; and that we should do something about it. That’s great news. But let’s do something real. Let’s do something real. The senator mentioned a few bills – I’s be happy to look at them. I hope he’ll look at ours and I hope he’ll ask this leader, his leader, the Republican Leader, to allow an open debate on the floor with amendments. We’d welcome that. We’d welcome it. Some in the oil and gas industry won’t like it, that’s for sure. Some in the coal industry won’t like it, that’s for sure. But most Americans will.

So let’s do it. The time for partisanship on this issue is long over. The time for one party to block any change and not offer anything that they believe in is over. We need to act quickly and boldly to confront this challenge before it’s too late.

So it’s time we stop the nonsense. As I said, we welcome this debate because we’re talking about climate change for the first time. And the hypocrisy of putting a bill on the floor and then voting against it is becoming so clear to the American people. But as a byproduct, we’re getting a debate. We’re getting some of our colleagues for the first time to admit that climate change is real and caused by human activity and that we ought to do something about it. We welcome it.

This committee will help bring the kind of bipartisan discussion that my good friend from Wyoming has asked for. And so let’s do it.

So Madam President. I ask unanimous consent that the Rules Committee be discharged from further consideration of S.Res.97, a resolution establishing the select committee on the climate crisis, and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; the resolution be agreed to; and the motion to reconsider be considered, made, and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.

[Senator Barrasso (R-WY) objected]