Congratulations to Democrats in the Senate for voting to restore American leadership on the defining threat of our time: climate change. Now, attention shifts to the upcoming House vote on the Inflation Reduction Act, whose provisions will help fight climate change and grow our economy by reducing our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.
As a Republican former member of Congress, I am dismayed at today’s total lack of Republican support for protecting their constituents against this costly and current threat. How many more billion-dollar floods, forest fires, drought-stricken farms and disasters do we need before Republicans speak the truth about climate and take action?
When I introduced the revenue-neutral Global Warming Prevention Act of 1989 with 144 cosponsors of both parties, including Newt Gingrich, Republicans agreed that we needed to protect future generations from this danger. My bipartisan 1989 legislation contained clean-energy and tax provisions similar to today’s Inflation Reduction Act. It would have given America a three-decade head start on climate change leadership at a much lower cost.
But the political climate has changed as rapidly as the Earth’s climate, and Republicans have stuck their heads in the proverbial sand. Republicans must be held accountable today by their voters, their constituents, their children and grandchildren for this negligence.
Explain to them, as well as those ravaged by the flooding in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, that while you’ve held a position of leadership, you have instead obstructed well-being, jobs and a strong economy for decades. Likewise, Kevin McCarthy, your home state of California has been called “ground zero for climate disasters.” Yet you attempt to block all climate mitigation legislation even while your home state suffers from one costly and dangerous climate disaster after another.
It has taken Democrats in Congress to address this dangerous inaction, and not a moment too soon. Republicans, you have abandoned future generation, and that is your legacy — the legacy of a Republican Party that has cynically chosen to deny reality, truth and justice.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Republicans have lost the principle of “fiscal responsibility” as well.
Sadly, because of Republican obstruction for three decades, we’re now playing catch-up in a costly crisis management mode. I thank Democrats in Congress for their timely leadership. I congratulate President Joe Biden for his persistence in protecting the lives of future generations from the ravages of global warming.
Claudine Schneider is a Republican former United States congresswoman and was the first woman ever elected to a major political office in Rhode Island. She is now a Colorado resident and regular contributor to Colorado Newsline, which first published this essay.