A week ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Capitol Hill, and a little over a year ahead of the 2016 election, ten Republicans from swing House Districts bucked party orthodoxy and acknowledged the reality of human-caused climate change. The ten Republicans signed a resolution “affirming that human activity contributes to climate change and endorsing action to respond to the threat of Earth’s changing climate.”
Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-19) drew up the resolution. While the legislation is vague on what specific policies should be implemented, the mere fact that any House Republicans are willing to go on record saying climate change is real, is by itself significant.
Their are 247 House Republicans, so the ten Representatives who acknowledge human involvement in climate change doesn’t even amount to 1/20th of the Republicans in the U.S. House. Nevertheless, ten is still a larger number than zero, and it suggests that some swing district Republicans are more interested in getting re-elected than in maintaining loyalty to the dogmatic anti-science ideology that dominates the House GOP caucus.
In addition to Gibson, the other House Republicans supporting the measure are: Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Robert Dold (IL-10), Dave Reichert (WA-8), Ryan Costello (PA-6) Pat Meehan (PA-7), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Elise Stefanik (NY-21) and Richard Hanna (NY-22).
The ten lawmakers will probably receive little attention since few of them are well known outside their districts. Furthermore, the sheer volume of the Republican presidential race, dominated by climate change deniers, is likely to drown out the feeble opposition of less than a dozen House GOP moderates.
However, if the nation intends to get serious about addressing the possible impact of climate change, it would be beneficial if members of both major parties made a commitment to do something. That ten Republican lawmakers have challenged party orthodoxy on the critical issue of climate change is a small step forward, but one that must be taken before bigger, more meaningful steps can follow.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.