by Michael Bastasch
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that Democrats would create a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in 2019, which will be headed by Florida Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor.
However, Pelosi’s announcement isn’t placating the progressive wing of her party, including New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, supporting “Green New Deal” legislation.
“This committee, if it turns out that the rumors about it are true, sound about as useful as a screen door on a submarine,” Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent, told The Hill.
“As it’s portrayed it’s going to be completely incapable of solving the greatest threat to human kind,” Trent said.
Pelosi, who’s expected to be elected House speaker in 2019, said there’s “tremendous pressure” for Democrats to make fighting global warming a central part of their agenda in the new year.
Pelosi made her announcement amid a government shutdown after she flew thousands of miles to a luxurious Hawaiian hotel where she was spotted Thursday, according to reports.
The creation of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is one way Pelosi plans on satisfying progressives without angering incoming committee chairs, like New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, who want to advance their own climate bills.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I appoint Congresswoman Kathy Castor as the Chair of our new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis,” Pelosi said in a statement issued Friday.
“She will bring great experience, energy and urgency to the existential threat of the climate crisis,” Pelosi said. “This committee will be critical to the entire Congress’s mission to respond to the urgency of this threat, while creating the good-paying, green jobs of the future.”
Pelosi’s climate committee isn’t expected to have subpoena power or authority to advance legislation to the House floor for a vote. If that’s the case, it would be weaker than the previous select climate committee behind the 2010 failed cap-and-trade effort.
“The American people have demanded action to combat the climate crisis, which threatens our public health, our economy, our national security and the whole of God’s creation,” Pelosi said.
“Together, we must protect public health by reducing air pollution, create jobs by making America preeminent in green technologies, defend our national security by preventing climate-driven instability and uphold our sacred moral responsibility to leave a healthy, sustainable future for generations to come,” Pelosi said.
Ocasio-Cortez is leading a small, but growing, cadre of far-left Democrats who back a “Green New Deal” — a vague plan that would mandate the U.S. get 100 percent renewable electricity, universal health care and federal jobs programs.
The “Green New Deal” could end up being the largest expansion of government power in decades. Its expansive nature has some Democrats skeptical if it can even pass out of the House.
Environmental activists stormed Pelosi’s office twice in 2018, demanding a “Green New Deal.” Part of that plan is having a House panel with full committee powers, something Pelosi’s committee is unlikely to have.
Our position, however, remains clear: Any Select Committee on Climate Change will be inadequate without a direct mandate to develop a Green New Deal — a plan to confront the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice tell us is necessary.
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) December 28, 2018
“Leadership in general is about listening to the voices of the people you’re supposed to be leading and I don’t believe this process incorporated that very effectively,” Trent told The Hill.
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