Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Vulnerable Democrats Missing From All-Night Climate Change Debate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Thirty Senate Democrats are scheduled to stage an all-night talkathon to address climate change and its deniers, but notably missing from the extensive roster of speakers are moderate Democrats, especially those who are up for re-election in 2014.

According to a list of participating senators provided by Democrats, the most politically vulnerable among them will not speak: Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and John Walsh of Montana. Interviews with several moderate Democrats on Monday suggested they were not invited to contribute to the event, while GOP campaigns hit Senate Democrats generally for staging such a stand on the floor.

“I will not be [speaking],” Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, said before votes Monday. “I will not be, but I think what they’re doing is helpful.”

The all-night floor session, organized by the Senate Climate Action Task Force, was designed to highlight the consequences of the warming planet and urge Congress to take up climate change legislation, last considered comprehensively in 2010. But an unintended consequence of the effort was to highlight divisions in the party, especially on energy issues, which put these senators — especially from energy-rich states — in a tough spot.

Landrieu and Begich, for example, come from states with economies that rely significantly on drilling.

Divisions among Democrats on climate change issues and how to legislate them are nothing new.

In 2010, now-Sen. Joe Manchin III infamously put a bullet through that failed cap-and-trade bill in a campaign spot entitled “Dead Aim” before winning a seat in the coal-dominated state of West Virginia. In 2014, it appears Manchin and others like him weren’t invited to the all-night floor session, which was informally arranged, by word-of-mouth between senators involved on the task force.

“I would be happy to participate if they would want me to,” Manchin said, noting in passing that he is working on a potential response with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and “all of us.”

Begich used similar “I would be happy” language. The Alaska Democrat told reporters he, too, would not join his colleagues as they spoke into Tuesday morning.

Reporters asked Manchin if he thought there was room for more moderate senators to make their case as part of Monday’s debate, and the West Virginia Democrat tiptoed around the issue, leaving room for his colleagues who are participating to craft their own message.

“Well, you know, I would hope so,” Manchin said. “They have the right to do whatever they want to do. Maybe they want to go in a different direction, I don’t know. I’m fine.”

In a neighboring coal state, the campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blasted out an email to supporters lambasting Monday’s “fake ‘filibuster'” and touting McConnell’s support of the coal industry.

“Mitch has taken to the floor to let them know how he feels about their job-crushing plans, and even read letters from Kentucky Coal Miners who are losing their way of life thanks to the misguided policies of the Obama Administration and the liberal Left,” the email from campaign manager Jesse Benton read. “Mitch will continue to lead the fight against the radical environmentalists and the War on Coal. Tonight, he sent a message: the liberals can try to pull every trick in the book, but they won’t get away with it.”

Earlier in the day, a McConnell spokeswoman sent to the campaign’s press list an article questioning whether Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes supports the Democrats’ all-nighter initiative.

The article on the website for a Louisville-based NPR affiliate included a statement from the Grimes campaign, which suggested the secretary of state “understands the reality of climate change” but opposes “unnecessary” environmental regulation.

  • Tim_Parker_999

    So you can’t change the economy, unemployment or enforce immigrations laws. . . so you want to change the ‘weather’? Way to go!

  • Buro Cratz

    Don’t be fooled, folks – the story of man-made global warming is a story of science fiction conjured up to scare the masses into submission.

  • john

    They all need to go.

  • Plow Comms

    In this article we find cultural Bolshevik Cass Sunstein attacking these united states from the altar of man-made global-warming:

  • terjeanderson

    In related news:

    Don’t be fooled folks – the story of a round globe is a story of science fiction conjured up to scare the masses into submission by sailing off the edge of the earth, and

    – the story that the earth revolves around the sun has been created simply to frighten the sheeple into blind obedience to the government, and

    – the claim that cigarettes causes lung cancer and other serious health problems is a nothing more than a fairy tale designed to beat the populace into slavery, while attempting to destroy the noble tobacco companies, and

    – evolution is a lie from the pit of hell aimed at distracting low information voters into accepting the need for scientific research, and

    – the germ theory of disease is a myth born out of a desire of the elites to convince the plebes that they should buy soap.

    Clearly thousands of scientists all over the world are part of a vast conspiracy – they’ve been bought off in an effort to destroy the world economy and force Americans to give up our televisions, cars, jobs, central heating, and otherwise return to the Stone Age. But fortunately you – and the big oil and coal companies – have the courage to stand up to those ridiculous scientists and insist that the only way to be free is to burn as much oil and coal as possible, to frack every backyard in the country, and blanket the country with oil pipelines everywhere.

  • Jesse4

    ” cultural Bolshevik”
    “attacking these united states”
    “altar of man-made global-warming”

    Three ways to identify a moron

  • ShadrachSmith

    What convinced you that CO2 controls the climate? Why do we care about CO2 in the first place? We don’t need more rules about CO2.

  • Locke_V_Hobbs

    The worst thing that US Voters did to themselves is talk themselves out of voting. The Democrats should have only one objective: convince people to vote – preferably for Democrats. If you want to reduce the amount of influence money has – vote. If you want politicians to be accountable – vote. If you want to matter at all – vote. Vote, Vote, Vote, or you are useless to the political process.

    Now then: CO2, CH4, H20, NH4, etc… are all greenhouse gases and they do what greenhouse gases do. You can legitimately argue: timelines, mitigating events (volcanos for instance), costs and benefits, winners and losers, etc.. But the earth is currently warming and CO2 and other gasses are helping to drive this process. Most of the heat is currently going into the oceans and ice as it takes a tremendous amount of heat energy to melt ice or heat water even a degree, the arm chair analysts among you try to argue against the whole thing.
    The oceans in places are becoming more acid from dissolved C02, species are moving into other habitats, islands are going under water, weather patterns are being disrupted, etc… basically, those who think they can create a natural reality as easily as creating a political reality are saying that they, their children, and grandchildren can live with the consequences – maybe they can, but will they thank you for it?

  • Rebas Thgil

    If there was any substance to “anthropogenic global warming”, then there wouldn’t be any need for it to be so political.

    But the only substance to AGW is that it is a hot button for the radical left – signaling for them an opportunity to institute bigger government, more taxes and loss of freedom in traditional radical hypocritical leftist fashion. Most noticeable among the leftist traits is the fact that the radical left elites most mouthy about AGW are spewing some of the greatest personal tallies of CO2 with their jet set lifestyles when they could be mounting travel-less *shovel ready* campaigns such as leading their minions to plant millions of trees.

    Bottom line: The left is not worried about actual warming; they are consumed with forcing more government and less freedom on the rest of us.

  • Mickey Kovars

    How much did this idiotic display cost the taxpayers?

  • Nick10

    It’s clear. You are no scientist.

  • Warren Roosevelt

    The democrats here are catering to their benefactor — Tom Steyer, wealthy democrat hedge fund guy, donating $100mm to this effort. No mention of Steyer in the article at all – maybe I missed it. Steyer is no different than the Koch Brothers. Too much big money involved in American politics today.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...