Mark Ruffalo and Fisher Stevens / The New York Daily News – 2017-07-17 18:52:35
Don’t Give Trump & Co. a Key Victory:
Schumer and Democrats Must Stand against McConnell’s Dirty Energy Bill
Mark Ruffalo and Fisher Stevens / The New York Daily News
(July 13, 2017) — What do you do when your plan to take away health insurance from 22 million Americans and give huge tax breaks to the wealthy starts to unravel? If you’re Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, you create a strategic plan to build legislative momentum by passing a bill that previously had bipartisan support.
That’s the nefarious ploy McConnell has devised to kill three birds with one dirty energy bill: a legislative victory, a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry, and paving the way to pass Trumpcare after.
McConnell is rushing the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 to the floor as early as next week, foregoing committees and hearings. The bill includes much of the fossil fuel industry’s wish list. It would waste billions of dollars on new coal projects, and expedite the process to mine and drill our public lands, approval of pipelines, and permitting of massive offshore Liquefied Natural Gas export terminals that would increase demand for fracking.
It’s a massive, more than 850-page energy bill, yet there’s essentially nothing good in support of truly clean renewable energy. These are among the many reasons why hundreds of environmental organizations oppose the bill.
The energy bill is a disaster for climate change. It would commit the United States to ongoing reliance on fossil fuels for decades to come. That’s exactly the wrong move at a time when it’s crucial that we reduce extraction and consumption of fossil fuels, and increase rapidly renewable energy, efficiency and clean transportation.
With Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement, members of the Senate Democrats should only be supporting legislation that gets us on track to meet those goals and quickly surpass them. This dirty energy bill would only move us further away.
To his usual sly self, McConnell no doubt chose this bill, in particular, to distract from health care and build momentum because a failed version of it attracted support from Senate Democrats last year. Now, if this bill passes, he figures he can get a bipartisan win and use that victory to pass Trumpcare under the guise of a functioning Congress.
The question unanswered is: Will Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats will give McConnell and Trump this win? Even setting aside the many substantive, merit-based reasons to oppose this bill, unified Senate Democrat opposition should be a no-brainer.
Again, Trump and McConnell are doing everything they can to kick tens of millions of Americans off their healthcare. They’re doing so despite the fact that only 17% of Americans support their disaster of a plan. They want to derail Medicaid, and are unmoved by the fact that so many children and elderly in this country depend on it. Simply put, if they win on health care, many people will suffer and die as a result.
When that’s what you’re facing, you don’t do anything — anything at all — that could help them. You don’t come together and give the Trump administration and the McConnell-Ryan Congress a win that will give a boost their vote whipping on health care.
That’s exactly what this dirty energy bill would do. That’s why McConnell — the architect of a stolen Supreme Court seat and so many other ridiculous legislative maneuvers — chose it.
No one should be too comforted or complicit by the headlines about how the GOP’s health care bill is struggling, or even Sen. John McCain saying it’s likely dead. Much of the conservative opposition is likely theatrical pandering. Remember, the same thing happened in the House. And then they passed an equally horrendous bill.
Plus, McConnell just added two more weeks to session in August in a desperate attempt to pass this before letting members back to their districts to hear directly from constituents who are fearful for their health and their families if they get kicked off their health insurance.
The good news is that the resistance movement and what has so far been concerted Democratic opposition have denied Trump and the McConnell-Ryan Congress their most significant legislative priorities. The resistance movement, with countless actions and calls for steadfast opposition, has shown that standing steadfast in opposition to disastrous, harmful policies works.
Now, in the face of McConnell’s latest legislative gambit with the dirty energy bill, will Senate Democrats stand firm or will they play into McConnell’s hands?
It’s up to Schumer. He needs to loudly and forcefully lead the Senate Democrats to oppose the dirty energy bill and refuse to give McConnell a win and momentum that will quickly be used to make way for Trumpcare.
Ruffalo, an actor and director, serves on the advisory board of the Americans Against Fracking coalition and is a co-founder of The Solutions Project, an organization promoting renewable energy. Stevens is an actor and Academy Award-winning documentarian. He recently directed Before the Flood, a documentary film on the impacts of climate change and the Paris Agreement with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.