Schumer Challenges Leader McConnell And Senate Republicans To Admit Climate Change Is Real, Caused By Humans, And That Congress Needs To Act

February 14, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today on the Senate floor challenged Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans to admit climate change is real, caused by humans, and that Congress needs to act. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Republican Leader fashions himself as someone who doesn’t waste time with political stunts. I’m not sure I could count the number of times he’s shrugged off a piece of legislation by calling it “a futile gesture” because the president won’t sign it or because he thinks it would be a waste of the Senate’s time.

And yet, on Tuesday, the Republican Leader announced he would bring his Green New Deal resolution up for a vote because he wants to QUOTE “make sure everybody has the opportunity to go on record and see how they feel” about it – knowing full well his entire party will vote against it, including himself, and that it won’t pass.

Since Republicans took control of this chamber in 2015, they have not brought a single Republican bill to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions to the floor of the Senate. Not one bill. Republicans have controlled this chamber for over four years — not a single bill to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Madam President, We’re supposed to conduct the business of the nation. We’re supposed to tackle our country’s greatest challenges. Climate change is probably the number one threat to our planet. And yet not a single Republican bill that addresses climate change in a meaningful way to reach the floor. Not a one.

In fact, the Republican majority has spent the Senate’s time on legislation that would make climate change even worse. In one instance, the Republican leader moved to repeal a common-sense and vital program to reduce methane emissions, and it failed only because a few brave Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting no. 

So now with amazing irony, the first measure to address climate change from the Republican Leader, the first one in four years, will be one that he wants all of his members to vote against. Let me say that again: the Republican Leader announced that he’s going to bring up a resolution he intends to vote against.

Now that is what the American people hate about Congress. The pointless, partisan games. Next time you see Congressional approval hovering around 15%, don’t ask why. This is why – Leader McConnell proposing resolutions so he can vote against them and never proposing anything on this subject – climate change – that is constructive.

I hope the American people are paying attention because they need to see what’s going on here. The American people need to see that this is all there is to the Republican plan to deal with climate change. This is all they can muster. A political stunt. Not designed to make progress. Not designed to move the ball forward. They’re bringing a resolution forward so they can vote against it. This cheap, cynical ploy evidently represents the sum total of Senate Republicans’ leadership on the vital issue of climate change — an issue that cries out for serious engagement by members of both parties.  

But rather than seriously engage on the issue, our Republican colleagues are taking a page from President Trump’s petty playbook, trying to make this a game of political "gotcha.”  They’re taking their lead from the President, a man who is so willfully ignorant and foolish that he thinks he's clever by ridiculing the global scientific consensus on climate change whenever it snows.  

Well, the American people are not laughing. They weren’t laughing when a U.S. Senator brought a snowball to the floor of this chamber to mock climate science. They weren’t laughing when President Trump called climate change a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.”

The rest of the world isn’t laughing, either – not when basically every country in the world, including Syria, North Korea, and Iran, are working together to reduce carbon emissions while the Trump Administration has forced the U.S. to sit on the sidelines.

I would say to our Republican colleagues, this is no game, and it is no joke. Climate change is deadly serious. And the time for all of us to treat it that way is now…before it is too late.  

So when the Republican Leader says he wants to bring the Green New Deal resolution up for a vote, I say: go for it. Bring it on. You think it might embarrass Democrats to vote on a non-binding resolution that maybe some of us support but not others? Trust me; we’ll be fine.

Because the American people know that our entire party actually believes that climate change is happening and it’s caused by humans. We actually believe the consensus of the worldwide scientific community that climate change is an existential threat to this planet; one that threatens not only our children and grandchildren but all of us, right now. We actually believe that we need to do something about climate change.  

Do Republicans believe that? Do Republicans agree with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community? Does Leader McConnell? I seriously want to know and so do the American people.

So today, I am issuing a challenge to the Majority Leader. I don’t do this often, and my colleagues know that I would rather work in a bipartisan way on climate change. But his stunt -- his cynical stunt -- demands a response.

I challenge Leader McConnell to say that our climate change crisis is real, that it’s caused by humans, and that Congress needs to act. This is what two-thirds of the American people agree with. Two-thirds.

My strong suspicion, unfortunately however, is that Leader McConnell can’t and he won’t. Leader McConnell has voted six times against Sense of the Senate Resolutions that climate change is real and human activity has contributed to it. He’s dodged the issue time and time again. But maybe his opinion has changed.

So when Leader McConnell brings his Green New Deal resolution forward for a vote, we Democrats will demand our own amendment votes. Let’s see if anything has changed since 2015 when only five brave Republicans were able to vote yes on a resolution saying climate change is real and caused by humans. Two of them aren’t even here anymore.

If Leader McConnell blocks amendments, we’ll know where he and his party stand – against science, against fact, ostriches with their heads buried in the sand as the tide comes in.

If Leader McConnell allows amendments, allows an actual real debate on climate change, we’ll see which of our Republican friends are finally ready to admit that climate change is real, is happening right now, and are ready to act on it.

Unlike what Leader McConnell is proposing, that would actually be progress.

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