By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service
SEATTLE — A panel of congressional members seeking solutions to combat climate change is growing by leaps and bounds.
The Climate Solutions Caucus started with just a handful of members a few years ago, but now has 50. It’s bipartisan, and for every Democratic member added, there must also be a new Republican.
The caucus is part of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (citizensclimatelobby.org/climate-solutions-caucus/), which has 370 chapters across the country.
Steve Valk, the group’s communications director, says the goal is to have discussions about climate change with no acrimony.
Volunteers work to recruit new congressional members to the caucus by telling them it’s a safe place to have conversations, and to come up with possible solutions.
“We don’t go in and tell people what we don’t like about what they’ve said or done,” Valk points out. “We go in and tell them what we actually like about things they have done, and then from there we actually have a conversation with them to find the common ground.”
Valk says the goal is to have the panel come together and draft major legislation to preserve the environment for many generations.
In Washington state, Democrat Derek Wilmer and Republican Dave Reichert are members.
Valk says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are responding to the increasing number of Americans who want something done about climate change.
“Their constituents are concerned about this and they want their representatives to be proactive on this, and this is a way for them to demonstrate that they’re willing to start the wheels in motion to get something done,” he states.
Valk maintains that despite climate change deniers in the Trump administration, many Republicans understand the science and know carbon pollution is a big problem, but aren’t always admitting it in public.
“They want to do something but they also want to keep their seats in Congress, and so they’re a little hesitant to step up until it’s demonstrated to them that they have support in their districts,” he explains.
This summer, with the help of 46 Republicans, the U.S. House defeated an amendment to a Defense Department authorization bill that would have blocked a study on the impact climate change is having on national security.
Valk gives credit to the members of the Climate Solutions Caucus who voted in favor of the study.
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