- House Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday that would keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Change Agreement and call on President Trump to release a plan for the country to keep its commitment under the United Nations pact. Democrats said the "Climate Action Now Act" should reach the House floor in a matter of weeks.
- Separately, Senate Democrats created the “Special Committee on the Climate Crisis,” a 10-member panel that will hold hearings on the impacts of climate change and investigate special interests' role in fostering climate denial.
- The actions came a day after the Senate held a symbolic vote on the Green New Deal resolution, with Republicans voting against it and Democrats voting "present" in protest.
The House bill marks a more tangible climate goal than the non-binding goals from the Green New Deal (Axios has reported House Democrats are planning piecemeal bills that would offer more policy details to back up the Green New Deal). A floor vote would also help Democrats show that the U.N. climate change agreement still has support, despite the Trump administration’s promise to take the U.S. out of the deal.
Following the White House decision — and a series of policy decisions designed to boost fossil fuels at the expense of clean energy — local and state leaders have stepped up their climate goals in order to uphold the U.S. pledge to cut carbon emissions between 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The "We Are Still In" coalition has more than 3,500 entities committing to the goals, and the "We Are Taking Action" coalition has offered an umbrella organization for public and private partners to take specific climate action.
Given Republican opposition, it’s unlikely the House bill would pass the Senate or make an impact on the White House. Similarly, the Senate’s climate panel will ultimately be purely symbolic, since legislation it produces is unlikely to move on the Senate floor (Republicans voted down an attempt to create a formal, bipartisan climate committee). Still, the action does send a signal to city and state governments that national Democrats are taking the issue seriously and will work to foster lower-level action. The bills also send a signal to the clean energy sector and private companies looking to take climate action that there could be political support if Democrats take back the White House or gain more control of Congress.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., said the bills "respond to the incredible groundswell of activism from young people who are demanding climate action now." Castor, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, added that the House bill "will help us carry out our moral obligation to future generations to tackle this crisis now."