Two dozen Democratic senators to stage all-night session of climate change speeches
More than two dozen Democratic senators will take to the Senate floor on Monday for an all-night session of speeches on climate change.
The marathon session will get underway after the last vote on Monday night and could last until 9am on Tuesday, Senate staff said.
The Senators said they would be tweeting throughout the night, using the hashtag #Up4Climate.
“Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is solvable,” Brian Schatz, Democratic senator from Hawaii, said in a statement. “Congress must act. On Monday night we are going to show the growing number of senators who are committed to working together to confront climate change.”
There is no prospect of getting climate change legislation through this Congress – and a majority of Republicans in the House and Senate deny the existence of a human role in climate change or oppose action on climate change.
The leading Republican in the Senate, minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said at the weekend he doubted the existence of climate change.
“For everybody who think it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t,” McConnell told the Cincinnati Enquirer. He then said he opposed US action on climate change. “Even if you conceded the point, which I don’t concede, but if you conceded the point, it isn’t going to be addressed by one country. So the idea is, we tie our own hands behind our back and others don’t. I think it’s beyond foolish and real people are being hurt by this.”
But there is a perceptible change in the Obama administration’s willingness to public embrace climate change as an important political issue.
Administration officials – led by Obama himself – have been much more vocal about climate change in his second term, and the Environmental Protection Agency is pushing on with regulations to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, the single largest source of climate pollution.
John Kerry, the secretary of state, reaffirmed on Friday he wants to make climate change his signature issue.
The Pentagon also reaffirmed last week that it saw climate change as a threat to military installations.
Some of the 28 senators taking to the floor on Monday night have been working for years to try to get climate change legislation through the Senate, including the Masschusetts Democrat Ed Markey, who was co-author of a 2009 bill.
The Rhode Island Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse, has delivered 60 speeches about climate change over the last two years.
But there will also be some newcomers on Monday night, as well as a number of senior Democratic senators, such as Nevada’s Harry Reid and New York’s Charles Schumer, who have been reluctant to take up climate change.
Two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Maine’s Angus King, will also take part.
As might be expected, no Republican senators signed on to the new initiative. A number of energy-state Democrats are also staying away, such as Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska. Mark Warner of Virginia who is up for election in 2014 was also not on the list of participating senators.
The full list of participating senators includes: Harry Reid of Nevada, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Charles Schumer of New York, Patty Murray of Washington, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Barbara Boxer of California, Dianne Feinstein of California, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Bill Nelson of Florida, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Mark Udall of Colorado, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Al Franken of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Angus King of Maine, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Ed Markey of Masachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey.