The pressure is growing for the creation of a special House committee to focus on the development of legislation for a Green New Deal. In brief, the concept is that the Green New Deal Committee would be to focus on developing legislation for introduction in 2021 (presumably with a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in the Senate) that would:
- Put the United States on track to being a carbon-neutral economy fast enough to mitigate against climate catastrophe;
- Structure climate action to:
- Boost economic performance;
- Create jobs; and
- Foster environmental and economic justice.
Few had heard of the Green New Deal until a few weeks ago, when Sunrise Movement activists “occupied” the halls outside (soon-to-be) Speaker Pelosi’s office to demand a committee be formed, and when Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez publicly endorsed their call to action. Since then, the number of Representatives(-elect) supporting this committee has swelled.
THIRTY FIVE Representatives now support the Select Committee on a #GreenNewDeal.
36 hours ago, that number was 22. Our movement has momentum, but we also have only a few more days to #SealTheDeal.
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) December 12, 2018
Of Virginia’s delegation, only Representative Gerry Connolly is currently counted among Green New Deal supporters, having made a public announcement a week ago.
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) December 7, 2018
Rep. Connolly’s support is aligned with his co-chairing of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC), as well as his view that we can tackle climate change while creating real economic opportunities for all Americans. Connolly’s perspective can be seen in his recent The Hill op-ed, co-authored with the head of the SEEC, Rep. Paul Tonko. Tonko and Connolly emphasize that infrastructure spending should be climate-smart, at the core:
“While serving to spur economic growth and increase our security, a smart infrastructure plan that takes the long-view must advance serious solutions to climate change.”
As per the following tweets, Virginia’s other Democratic members have had at least some calls from constituents for them to join the call for a Green New Deal special committee.
.@RepDonBeyer please show some #RealClimateLeadership. Take the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge & work for a #GreenNewDeal to make the U.S. climate neutral & 100% renewable in 10 years; to #drawdown CO2 w/ #regenerativeag & to promote justice & equality. https://t.co/bh1esQ4ufT
— Alexis Baden-Mayer (@AlexisBadenMaye) November 30, 2018
Well, then, Cong. Wexton, please join #GreenNewDeal and show it!
— Marge Dean (@MargeDean) December 6, 2018
With Rep. Connolly’s announcement and such public calls in mind, Blue Virginia reached out Monday to (staff of) the other six Democratic members of the Virginia Delegation for the next Congress.
Rep. Beyer, who is a serious Climate Hawk, is (according to his staff) reserving judgment on the concept of a Select Committee:
“Rep. Beyer has not taken a position on the idea of such a committee yet, his main focus is on trying to advocate for policies that move the ball forward on climate change and the bureaucratic steps taken to get us there, while important, are something that partially depend on some unknowns in the 116th Congress.”
I met with the folks at Sunrise. They don’t have a plan. They are simply pushing for the select committee. I know a comprehensive plan can be written within the current committee system. I am more interested in a plan and to that end I have reached out to a couple environmental groups to help with figuring out what a comprehensive plan looks like. I share their sense of urgency and desire for a comprehensive plan. IMHO worrying about the committee structure is a distraction.
As of noon, Friday, BV had not heard back from the other members. We will update this post accordingly if and when we do.