Is Bi-Partisanship Returning?

Posted: May 24, 2017

In the past few years, we have seen a downward spiral into rank partisanship in the U.S., crippling any reasonable potential for agreement on addressing climate change. But now we’re seeing movements toward bi-partisanship, and they are growing.

We started out in our fight to preserve the environment with unified bi-partisan efforts. Strongly bipartisan legislation establishing the EPA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. More recently, recognizing the risk of climate change and the power of pricing carbon, bi-partisan bills such as the McCain-Lieberman proposals for cap and trade in the Senate, and companion bills in the House were introduced from 2003-2008.  But by the 111th Congress (2009-2010) Democrats were the only proponents of carbon pricing. Since then proponents’ bills are all from Democrats and opposition is all from Republicans.

But change is coming. In the 114th Congress (2015-2016) we saw a very small change in the proposals offered by the Democrats. Both Delaney [D-MD-6] (H.R.2202) and Whitehouse [D-RI] (S.1548) introduced carbon pricing bills including a proposal to reduce corporate income tax as a swap for part of the carbon price. Senator Whitehouse openly stressed that the revenue options in his bill are meant to draw bi-partisan support. There were signs that some Congressional Republicans were recognizing climate change and moving to find solutions in 2015.

The efforts by Republicans in 2015 to build Republican climate change caucuses didn’t get off the ground, but a bi-partisan caucus, the Climate Solutions Caucusfounded in February 2016 by two Florida Representatives, Rep Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) and Rep Ted Deutsch (D-FL-21), has thrived. Its goal is to educate house members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk, which can include pricing mechanisms. The bi-partisan caucus now has a total of 38 members, divided equally among Republicans and Democrats.

Also, in a move long overdue, eight Republicans came forward in February, 2017 with a proposal to the White House for a carbon tax and dividend, including reduction in some existing climate change regulations.

And, in 2017 Representative John Delaney (D-MD-6) has proposed H.R. 2326 – Climate Solutions Commission Act – to form a bi-partisan commission to “undertake a comprehensive review of economically viable public and private actions or policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States”.  The co-sponsors include seven Republicans and six Democrats.

This is a refreshing trend. Now is a good time to lobby your representative and senators to join the bi-partisan efforts. Go for it.