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“The time is now”: House progressives renew their calls for a White House climate emergency
In the wake of a week of record-breaking extreme heat, lawmakers and climate advocates are calling on the president to use every tool at his disposal to combat the crisis.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The Senate returns to Washington this afternoon and the House is back on Tuesday for a crucial three-week sprint before Congress’s annual month-long August recess. Your Supercreator Daily author will have an in-depth preview of the substance and politics of both chambers’ legislative agenda in tomorrow’s issue so stay tuned. But first, can we discuss the extreme heat from last week?
This past Thursday was the hottest global day on record, which broke the record set last Wednesday, which broke the record set last Tuesday, which broke the record set last Monday.
During the course of these record-breaking temps, House progressives renewed their call for President Joe Biden to declare a national climate emergency.
“The time is now,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus tweeted from its official Twitter account.
Juley Fulcher, a worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, told Supercreator Daily in an interview on Friday that the weather conditions we’re experiencing are just examples of the extremes we’ll see as a result of the climate crisis.
“They’re going to affect, obviously, different parts of the world differently — there’s going to be droughts, there’s going to be places that are getting intense storms and rains and the like,” Fulcher said. “Within the US, we are looking at sort of the California-to-Texas kind of area being extremely hot with drier conditions, whereas the rest of the southeast all the way to the Atlantic coast is expected to be hot but wet, and that travels all the way up to the mid-Atlantic when you look at the maps.”
John Paul Mejia, a national spokesperson for Sunrise Movement, a climate advocacy group, told Supercreator Daily that he received texts and group chats from loved ones in his hometown of Miami about heat advisories above 105 degrees.
“It’s terrifying to think that we’re already here,” Mejia said during an interview this weekend. “And I think that that puts a lot of urgency to the political leaders of this moment who are endowed with a responsibility to use every tool in their power to abate the emergency that’s no longer at our doorstep anymore, but that has a foot in the door and is already affecting people right now.”
Under the climate emergency declaration, one of the actions listed in the CPC’s executive agenda, House progressives have asked the president to invoke the Defense Production Act and Trade Expansion Act to mobilize the domestic industry to manufacture affordable renewable energy for domestic use and international export. The caucus has also asked the administration to reinstate the crude oil export ban and prioritize frontline communities most affected by the climate crisis in the development of clean energy systems.
When reached for comment on the House Progressives’ latest request, White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan referred Supercreator Daily to comments from Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton when she was asked during a Q&A with reporters en route to North Carolina if Biden is reconsidering a climate emergency declaration after a separate public push from congressional Democrats.
“I don’t have any new action to announce for you today with respect to that,” Dalton said at the time before slamming House Republicans for voting to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes the biggest climate investment in US history.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last Friday called the recent extreme weather patterns alarming.
“But for years now, Republican lawmakers have continued to deny the very existence of climate change that we can now witness with our very own eyes,” Jean-Pierre said. “And so, by them to try to repeal [the IRA], it is stunning, it is absurd, and it is dangerous — just by what we have seen these past couple of days.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), an icon in the progressive movement and a candidate to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the US Senate in 2024, was complimentary of the Biden administration’s work on climate change given the political dynamics in the Republican-controlled House and the Senate, which requires at least nine Republican votes to break a filibuster on major legislation.
“The health impacts are horrendous. And so we need to do more,” Lee said on Sunday to Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union. “But I think that this administration has done a very good job in making investments in our climate emergency.”
For Mejia, a climate emergency declaration would be more than symbolism.
“It means that we recognize that we are well beyond some points of action,” he said. “And that we have to go full forward into not only eliminating our absolute addiction and reliance on fossil fuels as a country, which fossil fuel executives and their bought politicians are continuing to have us on, but also foster solutions that are good for people, that create millions of good union jobs, that house people in the midst of conditions of extreme heat, and hurricanes and disasters like these keeping people safe.”
Fulcher added that the government must also do more to protect individuals and workers.
“We need to recognize that to say something like, ‘It’s going to be horrible heat out today, stay indoors,’ doesn’t work if people don’t have functioning air conditioning or the kind of home that’s insulated enough to keep air conditioning in or the money they need to pay to keep the air conditioning running,” she said.
Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX), a first-term House progressive from Dallas, led a letter from 15 Oversight Committee Democrats to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Friday seeking answers regarding working conditions that may have contributed to the death of Eugene Gates, a postal worker in Crockett’s district and 40-year veteran of the US Postal Service. Gates collapsed on his route last month while temperatures in North Texas reached as high as 115 degrees. (Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed a law last month that eliminated city and county ordinances that mandated water breaks.)
The White House’s Jean-Pierre said federal officials are proactively inspecting over 70 high-risk industries in areas under a heat warning or advisory to protect workers. She added the administration will be announcing additional actions to protect communities from extreme heat.
As the new campaign season emerges, Mejia said the path forward will require political leaders with courage and imagination who are willing to stand for climate justice against powerful special interests committed to maintaining the status quo.
“We know that the dangerous coalition of white supremacists, religious fundamentalists, and corporate executives who are buying out our government, from Congress to the Supreme Court, are being incredibly creative and, in their own way, courageous with trying to bring the country not only to a form of the past but also to a place that it’s never been before,” he said. “And, frankly, if Democrats aren't able to do the same, how are we going to expect people to show up for them? How are we going to expect them not to lose in the next elections?”
The path forward will also require voters to choose optimism over apathy.
“The moment that you have given up, they have won. Cynicism is a tool of the oppressors, of the fossil fuel industry, to try and get young people from not even getting involved and having a playing field that’s not competitive in how we want to shape the world,” Mejia said. “Without a culture of optimism, we are simply drowning in despair.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your indispensable guide to the politicians, power brokers, and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Monday, July 10, 2023.
TODAY IN POLITICS
All times Eastern
5:45 a.m. President Biden met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street, the official residence and office of the prime minister.
7:15 a.m. The president left London to travel to Windsor Castle, arriving at 7:35 a.m.
7:45 a.m. President Biden will participate in a ceremonial arrival with King Charles III.
8:05 a.m. The president will meet with the king.
10:35 a.m. President Biden will leave London to travel to Vilnius, Lithuania, arriving at 12:55 p.m.
3:00 p.m. The Senate will meet with a vote scheduled to advance the nomination of Xochitl Torres Small to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.
4 p.m. Vice President Harris will ceremonially swear in Jared Bernstein as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.
4:15 p.m. The vice president will ceremonially swear in Geeta Rao Gupta as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend.
The House is out.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will participate in an official arrival ceremony, official photo and guest book signing, and a bilateral meeting with President Gitanas Nausėda of Lithuania. He will also formally greet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with President Nausėda. Additionally, Biden will take a family photo with allied heads of state and leaders before meeting with the North Atlantic Council and Sweden.
Wednesday: President Biden will meet with NAC leaders, Sweden, Indo-Pacific partners, and the European Union. He will also speak about defending democracy and how the US is addressing global challenges before traveling to Helsinki, Finland.
Thursday: The president will participate in a bilateral meeting with President Sauli Niinistö of Finland before taking a family photo with the Nordic leaders. Before he holds a press conference with President Niinistö, Biden will also participate in the Nordic Leaders Summit. After, he will return to Washington, DC.
Harris’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The vice president will make an announcement on child care and convene a roundtable with disability rights leaders on transportation accessibility.
Wednesday: Vice President Harris will meet with civil rights leaders and consumer protection experts to discuss artificial intelligence.
Thursday: The vice president will travel to New York City to speak at a campaign fundraiser.
Friday: Vice President Harris will travel to Maryland to speak about the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate provisions.
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THEY DID THAT
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) announced he will run for re-election in the House instead of campaigning to replace the retiring Ben Cardin in the Senate. The decision places Raskin in line to become chair of the powerful Oversight Committee if Democrats retake the House and sets up a competitive primary between frontrunners Rep. David Trone (D-MD) and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks for the Democratic nomination.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) announced he will take paternity leave after the birth of his second child with his wife Sydney. “Across the country, leave is treated as an outlier at best and a punchline at worst. That has to change; no parent should have to choose between being there for their newborn and returning to work,” Gallego, who is running for the Senate seat currently held by Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), said in a statement. “That’s why we must break the stigma and fight for federal solutions that allow all parents to take the leave they deserve.” (Gallego’s leave comes as Congress is scheduled to be on recess until September 12 after July.)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken convened more than 70 countries to launch a global coalition to address the threat of deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl. The coalition will coordinate and combine its efforts to prevent illicit drug manufacturing, identify emerging threats, cut off drug trafficking, and reduce both the supply of and the demand for deadly drugs.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies strongly endorsed Dr. Philip Jefferson to serve as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, the board’s second-highest position, and Dr. Lisa Cook for an additional full term as a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors. Jefferson became the fourth Black man to serve on the board and Cook became the first Black woman and woman of color to sit on the board when they were confirmed last year. The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to vote to advance the economists to the full Senate on Wednesday.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced it would offer free tuition to incoming undergrads whose families earn under $80,000 after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in higher education. The university, which was one of the defendants in the affirmative action case, said it has also hired additional outreach officers to serve under-resourced communities and recruit students from across the state.
The Treasury Department released new data that showed its Homeowner Assistance Fund made roughly $3.7 billion in payments to more than 318,000 homeowners at risk of foreclosure through March 2023. Almost half of this assistance went to very low-income homeowners while 35 percent of homeowners who were assisted self-identified as Black, 23 percent self-identified as Hispanic/Latino, and 59 percent self-identified as female.
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