Some details emerge about select climate change committee

Source: Nick Sobczyk and George Cahlink, E&E News reporters • Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2018

Next year’s likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) huddled with incoming committee chairs this morning to pitch them on a climate change select panel after weeks of bickering over the issue in the Democratic caucus.

Most details are still being finalized, but two lawmakers who were at the meeting said she proposed a select panel with 15 members and little, if any, legislative power.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said that he’s “comfortable” with the proposal and that it would not affect his work next year when he is chairing the Natural Resources Committee.

“I think coordination is going to be the biggest issue,” Grijalva said. “Whatever happens to the select committee, the work of other committees of jurisdiction are not put on hold.”

The issue has been a flashpoint for the caucus since the midterm election. Pelosi first proposed reviving the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which was led by then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) the last time Democrats controlled the House, ahead of the election.

But Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) stirred the pot with her own proposal for a select committee that would be tasked with crafting a broad “Green New Deal” bill by 2020.

It’s not clear yet what Pelosi’s committee would be called or who, exactly, would serve on it, but Grijalva said Pelosi plans to announce more details formally in the coming weeks. It would then be instituted as part of the rules package early in the next Congress, he said.

Despite some tension with soon-to-be committee chairs during the last few weeks, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called today’s meeting a “good start” toward finding consensus on the select panel. Thompson will chair the Homeland Security Committee next year that has some oversight of climate policy.

The lawmaker said he now views Pelosi’s proposal favorably and “absolutely” expects it will be created in the new Congress.

Thompson said he would expect the committee to have nine Democrats and six Republicans. Grijalva, too, pointed to the previous iteration of the select committee, when the split was 9-6.

As for membership, “the goal is to try to take it from the committees of jurisdiction,” Thompson said.

“You know, it’s the leader’s call, the speaker’s call, in terms of who’s going to get on the committee,” he said.

Grijalva added the select panel is “not a threat to anybody” and suggested it might even be beneficial to put a “big bright light” on climate change during the Trump administration.

“I think it’s pretty well settled,” Grijalva said. “Pretty well.”

The meeting involved the leaders of committees with jurisdiction over climate change, some of whom were less forthcoming this afternoon.

Asked whether she was satisfied with Pelosi’s proposal, incoming Science, Space and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said, “It’s not done.”

Meanwhile, incoming Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who has been the most outspoken critic of the proposed select panel, said he didn’t want to talk about it.

“I don’t want to talk about it, please,” he said. “I’ve got enough things to do.”