Is the climate about to change in the U.S. Senate?

By |2014-10-31T14:36:47+00:00October 31st, 2014|CFACT Insights|6 Comments

How much does the average voter in this mid-term election know about the Senate? Mostly that they’re sick of congressional gridlock and all those nasty political ads on their TVs.

Most voters have no idea how or why all that is happening or what role the Senate plays in the November 4, 2014 polls, much less what that has to do with climate change.

Climate-based election campaigns have hit a wall of voter apathy so solid that Big Green money has switched to issues such as abortion and the economy, which clouds the question.

Senate chamberMany voters vaguely recall that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) made an infamous hit against the coal industry in a TV clip claiming “Coal will kill you” and he remains a high-profile sermonizer of the mantra, “Climate change is real and it’s happening all around us right now.”

But why Harry Reid? Why does he get TV time like that, or even at all? Most voters in the 2014 midterm elections couldn’t tell you. Even the mainstream media are worried enough about our abundant ignorance that ABC News ran an educational item, “5 Simple Questions About the Midterm Elections Answered.” The word “simple” in that title says we need a civics lesson.

ABC News spent four of those answers explaining that elections for members of Congress happen every two years, and that presidential elections happen every four years, so there will be an election in the middle of the president’s four-year term, which is why they’re called mid-term elections.

But, to their credit, ABC News added, “The real fight to watch on November 4 is whether the Senate changes hands from the Democrats to the Republicans. Democrats are trying to hold control and the GOP wants to wrest it from them.” If the GOP can win only six seats from the Dems, they get control.

But what does “control” mean in Congress, and why is it so important? It means that the political party with the most members in the House of Representatives gets to select the Speaker of the House and likewise in the Senate with the Majority Leader – among the most powerful offices in America. Senate Democrats see the midterm elections as a death match to hold control and the GOP is determined to wrest it from them, and that could end the political power of climate change advocates.

If the Republicans win control of the Senate, and the House remains Republican, all of President Obama’s climate program could be stopped. His executive orders could be denied appropriations for enforcement and his regulatory monstrosities could be de-funded. In short, with public concern over climate change vanishing, Congress could go around Obama as much as he goes around them.

It is true that Obama could veto any bill a Republican Congress might pass, but with a lame duck president, the main problem is blocking presidential excesses, not passing new laws. And if Obama does veto popular bills, he won’t be doing Democratic 2016 presidential hopefuls any favor.

The Senate is thus the key to turning climate change into a public debate instead of its current status as a mean and spiteful dictatorial leviathan. The majority party of the Senate, like the House, makes all the rules and passes all legislation that it supports and blocks all that it opposes.

But the Senate has special powers the House does not: it rules over the confirmation

Colorado Senator Udall attempts to conflate local fires to climate change

Colorado Senator Udall attempts to conflate local fires with climate change

or rejection of every key administration nominee and every federal court nominee, including Supreme Court justices. A Republican Senate from 2015 to 2017 is the only bulwark against a left-leaning Supreme Court.

Perhaps the least appreciated power of being the majority party is this: party members become the chairman of every committee and subcommittee in the chamber. With a GOP Senate the committee chairman of every committee in Congress would be a Republican. The committee chairman is a person of immense power who gets to decide which bills live and die, which bills get a hearing, and which issues get influential public attention, yet almost no average American could name a single one.

That’s what control of the Senate has to do with climate change – and just about everything else in public policy.


  1. Frederick Colbourne November 1, 2014 at 2:24 AM

    So sad that so few people know how their own government works. The same is true both in the US and the UK.

    I am not an American and have not lived in North American since 1963 when I was a student there nor visited except in transit. Yet I saw nothing new in this article. That says how simple an education piece the ABC News piece was and how profound is the ignorance of the main guardians of the American form of democratic government. Eternal Vigilance seems too high a price for Liberty.

    What should have been stressed in this piece is that Congress can restrict the use of power that it has granted to the the President by withholding funding. And the President cannot veto the cutting of funds.

    (This power is similar to the power of the purse that the English Parliament had in the days when Kings liked to claim absolute power.)

    Thus Congress can cut funds to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management even if the Federal Courts uphold the power of the President to apply the enabling legislation in ways not intended by Congress.

    Thus Congress, under control of the Republican Party, could (1) stop the war on coal, (2) prevent the loss of much of America’s electrical power production capacity, (3) prevent the massive power grab represented by proposed regulations to gain control over privately-owned land that is seasonally flooded or has seasonal natural drainage channels.

    The GOP can to a limited extent roll back this Imperial Presidency. Whether or not members of the GOP are brave enough to do so is another matter.

    • patriot 86 November 2, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      I at least hope they get the chance .Another four years of dirty harry combined with obama and were f****d.

  2. alpha2actual November 1, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    Robert Proctor coined the term ‘agnotology’ the study of how ignorance, particularly in scientific, military and technical matters, can be manufactured, manipulated by strategies and campaigns dominated by vested interests. Another, less sophisticated definition is “induced ignorance”. This perfectly describes the current state of the Anthropogenic Climate Change science debate.

    So I decided to coin a synonym ‘agendaist’, but someone beat me to the punch, defines agendaist as individuals who unlike most of the rest of us can only focus on one thing and their agenda is the prism through which all things are viewed, it is the one true yardstick, and the alpha and omega of their existence. They do come in all flavors, although thanks the prodigious effort they put into focusing on their totem there is no room for any other neurological function. All their efforts are twisted to viewing the entire world into classifying everyone as either with us or against us. Example is “Denier”, a not so subtle pejorative referring to Holocaust Denial. Therefore I will posit that it is perfectly appropriate to refer to Anthropogenic Climate Change agendaists as climate change Nazis, as Dr Roy Spenser has suggested.

    This sort of obsessive, or more accurately, pathological behavior will cause an Agendaists to take a statement by a person they’ve probably never met or interacted with in anyway, and twist it to fit their agenda.

    • zn November 3, 2014 at 7:39 AM


  3. MrInterpid November 2, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    Congress is defined, as BOTH the house of representatives and the Senate. This article equates congress with just the house, who are elected every two years. The Senate is elected every six years. Dirty Hairy Roid is not up for election this year (2014). All spending bills must originate in the house. Everything passed by the house has to “go through” the Senate. Hairy Roid has not let over 350 house passed bills even come up for discussion in the Senate. If Republicans can take the Senate this election, they will have an opportunity to pass bills to the president who will then “own” his response to them, either pass or veto. The way it is now Hairy Roid does his dirty work and the public sometimes isn’t any wiser.

    • patriot 86 November 2, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      Yup that rotten bastard dirty harry and braindead nancy pelosi have to go .

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