There are signs the monolithic Republican opposition to anything and everything having to do with climate change is beginning to crumble. Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives voted down an amendment proposed by Arizona Republican representative Scott Perry that would have blocked a requirement in the pending National Defense Authorization Act for the armed services to study the impact of climate change on the military over the next 20 years.
That requirement was included in an amendment to the bill proposed by representative Jim Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island. The Langevin amendment directed the each military service to identify which 10 of its bases were most threatened by the effects of climate change. That amendment passed with support from Republicans.
Perry said his amendment was offered because there are already a confusing welter of federal agencies studying climate change and he believes adding yet another layer of study is a waste of taxpayer money. He also said he did not think Congress should be telling the military how to do its job. Clearly, the learned gentleman from Arizona has no grasp of the notion of civilian control of the military, which is one of the bedrock principles of American democracy.
House Climate Solutions Caucus
The vote was a victory for what is called the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group that seeks to find a way for members of both parties to work together. The founders call it a “Noah’s Ark” model — no Democrat can join unless a Republican joins also and vice versa. While some critics have pooh poohed it as window dressing, it seems to have worked in this instance. The House vote was 185 in favor of the Perry amendment and 234 opposed — including 43 Republicans, 22 of whom are members of the Climate Solutions Caucus.
Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida and co-chairman of the Climate Solutions Caucus, said the the vote was proof that there is a “bipartisan majority in Congress of members who understand that climate change is a real threat to our communities, our economy, and our military readiness. I hope my House colleagues were watching closely; denying climate change is no longer a winning strategy.
A Setback For Trump
The vote is slap in the face to the #FakePresident and his cadre of hardcore climate deniers. Even the Tweeter In Chief”s own Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has stated that climate change is real and a threat to the military’s assets and activities . Mattis also believes the military must reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. An analysis of deaths and injuries suffered by American forces in Iraq shows that many casualties were suffered by soldiers driving or escorting fuel tankers bringing gasoline and diesel fuel to combat units. Mattis is also an advocate for using renewable energy sources which can reduce the need for fossil fuels in the field.
“The Pentagon has long warned that climate change is a grave threat to our national security, and the Secretary of Defense says climate change threatens our military readiness today,” says Sara Jordan, legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters. “Now even a bipartisan majority of Congress agrees — showing just how out of step President Trump and his polluter allies are in their efforts to put polluter profits ahead of our health and national security.”
Republicans Speak Out
Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York and a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus, spoke out against Perry’s amendment. “We would be remiss in our efforts to protect our national security to not fully account for the risk climate change poses to our bases, our readiness, and to the fulfillment of our armed forces’ mission,” Stefanik said on the House floor.
She also made reference to a statement made by Richard Spencer, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Navy, before a Senate committee on Tuesday. Spencer said climate change represents a real threat to the military, according to Politico. “The Navy, from my briefings to date, is totally aware of rising water issues, storm issues, etc.,” he said.
While the US Congress remains deeply divided over many issues, its ability to take action to address climate change at all offers a glimmer of hope that the stranglehold over the members of both branches held by the fossil fuel industry may be weakening, if ever so slightly.
Source: Think Progress
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