Schumer Floor Remarks Demanding Leader McConnell Allow Vote On Bipartisan Amendment To Fight Climate Change

March 9, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor urging Leader McConnell to allow a vote on a bipartisan amendment that would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make progress in fighting climate change. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

This week, the Senate will continue work on a bill that would update our nation’s energy policy. Since the bill has been taken up, Senators have filed hundreds of amendments, and I hope we can have a fair process that will allow the Senate to consider amendments from both sides of the aisle.

I voted yes on the motion to proceed to the energy bill because I was hopeful we’d have a fair and robust amendment process. Unfortunately, this has not happened. The Majority Leader is rushing to conclude the bill even though there is no particular urgency to finish it this week. I salute Ranking Member Manchin, who has worked very hard on this bill, as well as Chair Murkowski. I have differences with the bill, but they worked hard in a bipartisan way.

But we also have an emergency that warrants legislative action as soon as possible, and that is climate change. At the moment, Leader McConnell is blocking an important, bipartisan amendment that would help clear it.

I have urged Leader McConnell to allow a vote on an amendment led by Senator Carper, a Democrat, and Senator Kennedy, a Republican, that will require the EPA to phase out the use of HFCs, hydrofluorocarbons. HFCs are dangerous greenhouse chemicals found in everyday appliances; air conditioners, refrigerators, and the like—they are thousands of times more damaging to our atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Phasing out these HFCs is very important and it will go a long way in fighting climate change and protecting the environment for future generations.

I believe the Senate should be allowed to vote on the Carper-Kennedy amendment. A bipartisan group of Senators back it. Even the Chamber of Commerce backs this amendment. So far, Leader McConnell has not allowed a vote on it.

Now we don’t have a caucus position. There are different views because of the good work by Senator Shaheen and Senator Manchin on other parts of the bill, but I will be voting no on cloture this evening unless we can work out a compromise in the next few hours to get a vote on this critical amendment.

The energy bill is a rare opportunity to make tangible progress and progress on climate change, as well—an existential threat to our planet. I hope my Republican colleagues, and Leader McConnell in particular, see the better side of reason and allows us to vote on bipartisan amendments.