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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Senate Democrats to Pull All-Nighter to Push for Climate Change Action

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U.S.CapitolAtNightPhoto:AndrewHarrerBloomberg

Feb. 14 — Senate Democrats appear poised to take their first action to raise the national profile of the issue of climate change and urge action with an all-night floor session sometime in March to discuss the issue.

Meaghan Smith, a spokesman for Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), told Bloomberg BNA the date of the all-night session and specifics are still being finalized, but Schatz has taken the lead in organizing the event.

This is “one of a number of activities that the senators on the task force are organizing in the coming months to bring more attention to climate change,” Smith said.

Task Force's First Action

The all-night session will likely be the first concrete action a newly formed Senate task force on climate change will take to raise the profile of the issue nationally.
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) announced the formation of the task force Jan. 9 in hopes of both obstructing Republican efforts to derail climate change efforts by the Obama administration and raising the profile of the issue nationally.

Floor action on climate change legislation remains unlikely in the near future, but Democrats see an opportunity for raising public awareness of the issue following recent extreme weather events.

Schatz told Bloomberg BNA after the first task force meeting in mid-January that there was “newfound momentum” for action on climate change in the Senate and pledged to make the issue a personal priority in 2014.

'New Reinforcments.'

“I think it's fair to say that some of the longtime climate champions are finding that they have new reinforcements,” the Hawaii Democrat said in a Jan. 16 interview.

Whitehouse previously told Bloomberg BNA that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has shown “considerable personal interest in this issue and considerable leadership support” for action on climate change after a group of more than 20 Democrats recently met to discuss the issue with him (see my Jan. 22 blog).

As a sign of that commitment, Reid has reserved a permanent spot to discuss the issue of climate change at his party's weekly caucus lunch in the Capitol.

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