Jan 29, 2020

Top Republican floats bill to double science funding

Rep. Frank Lucas. Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

Washington would double the amount of federal funding in basic science research per a new proposal by Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, the top Republican on the House Science and Technology Committee, as a way to address climate change.

The big picture: Lucas' policy as part of House Republicans’ broader efforts on the matter is far narrower than the sweeping draft legislation Democrats unveiled Tuesday that aims to slash emissions over the next 30 years.

Driving the news: Lucas’ legislation, introduced Tuesday, would increase basic science research funding from roughly $16 billion to $32 billion over 10 years.

  • It’s unclear how much of that funding would go toward reducing emissions.
  • The focus of Lucas’s bill is as much on ensuring America’s leadership in science and technology as climate change itself.

Why it matters: While the policy is unlikely to pass with Democrats controlling the House, it is nonetheless the latest concrete policy we can expect Republicans to push as they face pressure from voters to acknowledge and address climate change.

What they’re saying: Lucas, like nearly all congressional Republicans, rejected the idea that Washington should pass a carbon tax as a “stick” to push clean-energy technologies, as opposed to continuing to rely on “carrot” policies incentivizing new tech.

“A lot of folks I work with advocate carbon taxes, rules and regulations — all sorts of ways to compel consumers to do things that are at least in the short- and medium-term not in their best economic interest. ... I just fundamentally believe that’s not the direction that will ultimately get to where we and the world wants to go.”
— Frank Lucas said in an exclusive interview previewing the bill

Go deeper: What’s in Republicans’ new climate-change push

Go deeper

Trump's budget undercuts congressional GOP's climate innovation push

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The new White House budget proposal, which would slash Energy Department science and R&D programs, is awkward for congressional Republicans who are taking pains to emphasize "innovation" to fight climate change.

The state of play: To some extent this is all theater because nobody expects this budget to resemble what's ultimately appropriated — but it complicates GOP efforts to tout their ideas when the president, who commands fierce loyalty from the party, is pushing in the other direction.

As Congress talks climate policy, carbon price gets no love

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New lobbying urging Congress to support a price on carbon emissions is not convincing lawmakers to warm up to the policy.

Why it matters: A carbon price is widely considered one of the most economically efficient ways to tackle climate change. But, economics be damned, its politics remain deeply unpopular.

Where top 2020 candidates stand on climate policy and the Green New Deal

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a rally May 13. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), has helped cement climate change as a real topic in the 2020 presidential race.

What's happening: More Democratic candidates have pitched climate change policy that goes beyond the Green New Deal, largely to prepare for events like CNN's "climate crisis" town hall. The GND — which is more of a call to arms than a strict policy proposal — outlines a 10-year mobilization plan to move the country toward a 100% carbon-free power system and a decarbonized economy.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy