Forty-two members of the Sunshine Movement were arrested for unlawfully demonstrating in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Monday, where they were urging him to support the Green New Deal (GND). Senator McConnell has refused to meet with the young protesters but has promised to bring the GND Resolution to a vote in the Senate as soon as later this week. The students came to Washington to present Senators with a petition of 100,000 signatures of GND supporters from around the country.
- A group of Sunrise Movement activists camped out at Senator McConnell’s office in Kentucky late last week while the Senate was on recess too but he also refused to meet with them there.
- Approximately 100 students participated in McConnell’s DC office protest, some of whom were from Kentucky.
- Sunrise movement activists also visited the offices of other Members during the recess, which is how the now viral video tape with Senator Feinstein came to be.
Meanwhile, according to Politico’s Morning Energy, Republicans are trying to figure out how to deal with with the grassroots popularity of the GND as they increasingly understand, based on a number of recent polls (see below), that climate change is real and a problem that the public expects to be addressed by Congress. Politico argues that Republicans are “shifting from attacks on climate science to touting their support for innovation to address the problem.” Interestingly, yesterday the Trump Administration replaced the Acting head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tim Gallaudet, the former Oceanographer of the Navy who is hardly a climate denier, with another Trump appointed scientist who wants to privatize weather and climate data and forecasts, according to Nature.com. And speaking of climate deniers, Republicans yesterday also forced the adjournment of a hearing on how industry manipulates climate science that was being held the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight, arguing that climate science is not within the jurisdiction of the subcommittee. Because there were more Republicans than Democrats present at the hearing, the motion to adjourn passed.
Why This Matters: The Green New Deal, and climate change in general, are now a major legislative issue on Capitol Hill, as well as in the race for the Democratic nomination for President. The number of hearings on climate change in the House in just the last few weeks is off the charts — there were four held just today. Even Senator Feinstein, who said she knew better than those whipper-snappers in her office last Friday, is now “revising” her Green New Deal Resolution that was arguably too weak. Dems in the Senate are also planning to vote “present” on the Green New Deal resolution if Senator McConnell brings it up, and use the vote to point out that the Resolution deserves hearings and debate before final action. This is all good news — except that the Dems on the House side need to actually BE PRESENT for important hearings. They let the Republicans have an easy win today in shutting down the oversight hearing on the important topic of private corporations manipulating climate science.
To Go Deeper: We highly recommend this article by Emily Atkin in The New Republic on why Dems like Senator Feinstein need to recognize that we need bold action to address the climate challenges ahead, not just a return to the status quo ante of the Obama Administration.