After a week of limbo and 14 failed ballots, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was finally elected Speaker of the House last week. The chaotic start to the 118th Congress was the opposite of what most House Republicans were hoping for. Instead of showing up united and ready to work on the priorities they won a majority with, their dirty laundry was aired before the nation on C-SPAN.
Midterm polling showed that voters wanted solutions, not grandstanding, from political leaders on the issues that mattered most. Among those issues were affordability and climate, which poll respondents said were the two most urgent issues facing our nation. Last week’s rocky start did not inspire confidence in voters about the GOP’s capabilities — 20 members allowed infighting over internal rules to overshadow the issues their constituents expressly said they cared about.
Now that the intra-party dispute has been resolved, it’s time for House Republicans to deliver what the American people want: lower energy costs — and lower emissions.
The 117th Congress, despite the media narrative of partisanship and gridlock, was incredibly productive when it came to bipartisan solutions for issues like climate change. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for instance, was the result of months of negotiations in the Senate and included significant measures for climate resilience and clean energy. The Growing Climate Solutions Act, which was ultimately included in the end-of-year omnibus bill, garnered the support of 92 senators to empower farmers and ranchers to utilize sustainable practices on their lands. The Senate even ratified the Kigali Amendment, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to limit the use of pollution-driving hydrofluorocarbons, on a bipartisan basis.
This approach to legislating is what we need in the 118th Congress. House Republicans have many leaders on environmental issues, from House Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman’s (R-Ark.) forestry expertise to energy innovation advocate House Energy and Commerce Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) to Conservative Climate Caucus Chairman John Curtis’s (R-Utah) thought leadership.
In his Commitment to America, McCarthy lays out a path forward on climate and energy issues. This approach may look different from that of the Democrats, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for bipartisan consensus and real legislative work.
There are a plethora of issues that could garner significant bipartisan support. The 2023 Farm Bill provides a significant opportunity for natural climate solutions and climate resilience. Members of both parties have signaled openness to permitting reform to unleash allAmerican energy production. Nuclear energy and critical mineral production, too, are areas where legislators can work together toward robust, bipartisan solutions. Both parties are all too familiar with detractor firebrands who prevent the body from legislating, but the American people have had enough.
The bottom line is: The American people saw dysfunction from the House when they should have seen legislating. Luckily, the 118th Congress has just begun, and there’s time for Congress to get to work.
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