Jun 21, 2018

House climate caucus adds six new members

Amy Harder, author of Generate

A bipartisan House caucus on climate change has added six new members, bringing its total to 84, nearly 20% of the House of Representatives.

The big picture: The caucus, whose stated mission acknowledges climate change and works to address it, has grown significantly under President Trump, whose administration mostly dismisses climate change as an issue. Of the 84 members, 70 have joined since Trump's election.

Details: It’s a “Noah’s Ark” caucus, meaning members must join in bipartisan pairs.

New members:

  1. Bill Posey (R.-Fla.)
  2. Bobby Scott (D.-Va.)
  3. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.)
  4. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.)
  5. Brett Guthrie (R.-Ky.)
  6. John Yarmuth (D.-Ky.)

Between the lines: Critics say the caucus is mostly an empty effort giving political cover to Republicans without pushing substantive policies. That overlooks a significant, albeit subtle, shift in Washington’s gridlock in this space: the sheer fact Republicans see a need or desire to join an effort supporting, not opposing, climate change. That’s notable given the party as a whole has dismissed or denied outright mainstream climate science for most of the past decade.

For the record, spokespeople for the first four member offices confirmed. The latter two, revealed Friday morning, were confirmed by a spokesman for Rep. Ted Deutch (D.-Fla.), one of the co-founders of the caucus.

What we're hearing: Danny Richter, VP for government affairs at Citizens' Climate Lobby, an advocacy group supporting the caucus, said Republicans are joining the policy group because their constituents are asking them. "It's up to those constituents to help them grab the next rung, which is to sponsor meaningful legislation," Richter said.

This story has been updated to reflect that two additional members joined the caucus on Friday.

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