(February 27, 2019)
A climate change hearing Tuesday before the U.S. House came to an abrupt end because the Democratic majority was mostly absent and Republican colleagues voted to end the hearing early. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) challenged the grounds for the hearing by noting the panel of experts and the topics to be discussed were outside the jurisdiction for the subcommittee.
House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) dubbed February climate change month. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing was scheduled as part the slate of multiple hearings held this month to tackle climate change. The hearing was to frame denial of climate science in the context of the National Football League ignoring impacts of player concussions and pharmaceutical companies not addressing the opioid addiction crisis.
“This is now the seventh oversight hearing related to climate change that the majority is holding this month, starting with a full committee hearing,” Gohmert said.
“These matters are all clearly outside of the jurisdiction of the Committee on Natural Resources, and its subcommittee per the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives,” he said, adding a motion to adjourn the hearing.
Two of the five Democrats attended while the panel’s four Republicans were all on hand. Despite a voice vote that subcommittee Chairman T.J. Cox originally deemed in favor of the “nays,” a rollcall of the members present resulted in a 4 to 2 vote along party lines to approve the motion and adjourn.
Frustrated, the Democrats moved to allow a “forum” to allow the assembled witnesses to speak, but not as part of an official subcommittee hearing.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not committed to holding a vote on the Green New Deal nonbinding resolution, threatening the prospects of the ambitious agenda put forth by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
“I can’t say we’re going to take that and pass it because we have to go through our checks and balances of it with our committee chairs and the rest,” Pelosi said Wednesday.
“We welcome all the enthusiasm that people want to put on the table, and the Green New Deal is one of them, but we have to operate in a way that’s evidence-based, current in its data,” she added.
Recent activism against lawmakers who have not signed on to resolution become a bit of a sore point, as Senators from California and Colorado have learned in the past week.
Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Western Caucus held a policy forum and press conference Wednesday to review the feasibility of the Green New Deal’s action items and, more importantly, its cost.
“We heard about how the socialist pipe dream seeks to fundamentally transform America,” said U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). “And the New Green Deal would provide education, health care, and housing to all.”
Gosar pointed to the estimated costs that one think tank, the American Action Forum, estimates for the Green New Deal—$93 trillion. Signs at the press conference read “Green New Deal Pipe Dream,” with “New Deal” struck through.
“The Green New Deal attacks American jobs and our way of life,” Gosar added.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) said his state employs hundreds of thousands of workers in the energy industry and delivers $50 billion in economic activity annually.
“In short, energy is the lifeblood of Oklahoma’s economy,” Hern said. “Under this toxic legislation, we would lose very job in energy, and every penny energy contributes to our state’s economy.”
But Oklahoma would not just lose energy-related jobs, it would also suffer because of the state’s large aircraft industry.
His colleague, U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), pointed to the targeting of dairy cattle in the plan. “This is completely unattainable, it’s not good for America,” Johnson said, saying that addressing climate concerns and other policy actions on conservation and forest management should be tackled more “realistically.”