Senate Democrats to stage climate change all-nighter

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

SALEM, Ore., March 10, 2014 — To emphasize the urgency of climate change, 28 U.S. Senators will talk about it all night long tonight on the Senate floor, according Senator Brian Schatz, event organizer. That is a little more than half of the Democratic caucus, including two independents.

The talk-fest will begin after the last votes today and is scheduled to last until approximately 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 11.

So many Senators coming together for an all-night session shows our commitment to wake up Congress to the dangers of climate change.
– Sen. Barbara Boxer, Schatz press release, 3/7/2014

No Republicans have signed on to attend the session.

The event will be held under the auspices of a new initiative, the Senate Climate Action Task Force, which was announced by California Senator Barbara Boxer and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse at a press conference on January 13, 2014.


At the January kick-off, senators spoke with great conviction on the dire need for immediate action to prevent catastrophic climate change. Those same sentiments will be repeated tonight.

Tonight’s event has no clear organization. It lacks an agenda, a list of speakers, an action plan for the night, and pre-published remarks for the Congressional Record. It is essentially an all-night senatorial bull-session. It lacks only pizza and the occasional pair of bunny slippers to resemble similar sessions that occur in college dorm lounges across the country every night.

The senators will sit around and informally discuss climate change to promote public awareness of the problem. Any senator who wants to speak will be allowed to say whatever he or she wants on the subject. While it would be meaningful for Senators to discuss concrete solutions, identify specific costs and craft functional legislation to address future climate change, none of that is on the non-agenda.

Instead, this exercise will probably degenerate into a gripe session lamenting a lack of action and Republican obstinance as Senators slip out the back door, one by one. They will ritually call Republicans “deniers” beholden to big oil special interests before they go home.

Senator Boxer, the main force behind all climate-change initiatives in the U.S. Senate, doesn’t even stay for climate-change hearings held during the day by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. That wouldn’t be so bad except she chairs the committee, calls for the hearings and sets the agenda.

If Boxer can’t last through one of her own hearings, it’s unlikely she or anyone else will last the whole night.

It’s refreshing that senators are willing to take a strong stand on something, anything, but what the United States needs more is for politicians to stand up for job creation, economic recovery and fixes to Obamacare.

Tonight’s event is nothing more than a staged publicity stunt.

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