Republicans Cracking on Climate?

July 17, 2017

We watched over 8 years as Republicans railed against the Affordable Care Act, promising that they had a ready alternative, if only the bad people would let them enact it.
Well, now we see the sham that was.

Could something similar be going on in the climate change arena?  To appease rabidly anti-science donors the GOP has railed against action on climate.

Easy to take shots at the President when (you think) you won’t actually be held responsible by history. Now the ball is in your court.


Forty-six House Republicans joined Democrats Thursday to protect language in defense policy legislation that calls climate change a “direct threat” to national security and requires new Defense Department analysis of its effect on the military.

  • The House voted 185-234 against GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have stripped the language in the bill requiring the study.
  • Why it matters: bipartisanship on climate has been in short supply for years in the Beltway, and Thursday’s vote provides a lift for advocates hopeful that Republican views on the importance of global warming are shifting.
  • Reality check: there’s still a massive gulf between the parties on climate change, and scant evidence that GOP lawmakers or the White House are open to emissions-cutting policies that many Democrats support, such as direct regulation of industrial greenhouse gas emissions or carbon taxes.

In their words: Perry said during floor debate that he offered the amendment because climate should not be the priority for military commanders who are dealing with issues like Islamist extremism and North Korea, and that lawmakers should not dictate what matters they focus on.

  • “Literally litanies of other federal agencies deal with environmental issues including climate change,” said Perry, an Army veteran.

But GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen argued against the amendment, noting the threat of sea-level rise on military installations. She said policymakers must be “clear eyed” about the topic. GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik said in opposing Perry’s amendment that “we would be remiss in our efforts to protect our national security” by not accounting for the effect of climate change on the military.

Daily Kos:

Opposition to Trump’s climate blindness from within his own ranks is nothing new. Earlier this year his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, openly contradicted his boss. Mattis said that climate change is “a real-time issue, And furthermore, Mattis isn’t the first defense secretary to hold these views. In fact, six of the past Secretaries of Defense (Mattis, Ash Carter, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and Donald Rumsfeld) all subscribed to the policy that climate change is one of America’s top strategic risks. And four of the six are Republicans. Especially notable is Rumsfeld, under whose leadership the Pentagon published a report on the subject. It’s title was “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.”    The report warned that threats posed by climate change were even more perilous than terrorism.

It’s encouraging that a few dozen Republicans joined with Democrats to kill this amendment. But it’s troubling that the majority of the GOP still voted in favor of it. Trump and the Republican Party continue to deny the accumulated wisdom of both scientific and military experts. They support an agenda that advances the interests of oil barons and apocalyptic Christianists. So this victory must be celebrated with a measure of uncertainty and a resolve to keep fighting for positive goals.

I understand a group of congresspeople recently came thru Kangerlussuaq, where I am now, lead by long time climate denier Lamar (“Donald Trump is the only source of unvarnished truth”) Smith. The trip was billed as an oversight exercise – so was there any learning going on, or was this just to find new areas to cut research?


Lamar Smith, one of the most vocal critics of climate science in Congress, led a secret trip to the Arctic in May, BuzzFeed News has learned.

He and at least eight other US representatives, mostly members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, met with scientists working on the front lines of climate change.

It had the potential to be an awkward or even hostile visit. As chair of the science committee for the past four years, Rep. Smith of Texas has waged a public war with federal climate scientists, or “so-called self-professed climate scientists,” as he called them in March. He’s challenged their research and integrity, repeatedly subpoenaed their emails, and voted to gut their funding.

Billed as an oversight visit for the science committee, the May 8–14 trip included a series of closed-door sessions for the politicians to inspect facilities and learn about federally funded science conducted at research hot spots in the Arctic Circle, as well as social events for the lawmakers and their families. No one publicized the visit, and some scientists told BuzzFeed News they were instructed not to talk about it.

In this part of the world, the realities of climate change are hard to ignore. On an aerial tour of Greenland, for example, the lawmakers saw the retreating “sugar top” ice cap and connecting glaciers. Scientists told them about how warmer temperatures had even changed the local insect populations.

“They were pretty clear that 10 years ago they didn’t have mosquitoes in the summer and now they do,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney, a Democrat who joined the committee because he wanted to take action on climate, and who accompanied Smith to the Arctic. “There was some real direct, you know, concrete evidence that things are changing.”

Smith’s team canceled a call with BuzzFeed News two minutes before it was scheduled, and subsequently did not respond to questions about the purpose of the trip or his impressions of Arctic research. But McNerney said he had productive discussions with Smith about climate issues.

“It really gave me the opportunity to go over this stuff with him and see how he felt and find that, hey, there really is some common interest here,” McNerney said.



5 Responses to “Republicans Cracking on Climate?”

  1. webej Says:

    North Korea is a climate issue too; nuclear war is mainly a climate issue, even though materially unrelated to the growing CO² blanket.

  2. It’d be safe to bet that there will be more Republican politicians who both publicly acknowledge reality AND win primaries. Putting a number on how many is tough.

  3. neilrieck Says:

    Obama Care (er, the affordable care act) was written by insurance industry lobbyists. Trump Care will be written by insurance industry lobbyists. The only thing the politicians can do is steer a course left, right, or center. Perhaps the easiest thing for Republicans to do now is just change the name.

    • Gingerbaker Says:


      Getting rid of the pre-existing conditions clause was written by insurance industry lobbyists?!?

      Stopping increased costs for sicker people was written by insurance industry lobbyists?!?

      Stopping insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick was written by insurance industry lobbyists?!?

      Doing away with annual and lifetime limits was written by insurance industry lobbyists?!?

      Right to a rapid appeal was was written by insurance industry lobbyists?!?

      Increasing the minimum benefits of all plans was written by insurance industry lobbyists?!?

      When you just throw *** against the wall to see what will stick, you ain’t building credibility, neil.

      Obamacare – yes, it is still a very crappy system, a cowardly band-aid from Democrats who have forgotten who they are supposed to be. But it is still an improvement for almost everyone. And a heck of a lot better than what the Republicans are trying to do to us.

  4. mboli Says:

    “there’s still a massive gulf between the parties on climate change….”

    Yep. 100% of Democrats voted against this bill. 20% of Republicans did.

    After voting to sand-bag the military, my Rep. was photographed a few days later next to volunteers filling sand bags for a local flood.

    Maybe he will one day get his wish for a photo-op at a flooded US military installation.

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