Senate Democrats' donor-friendly global warming show
by Byron York, Washington Examiner, March 10, 2014 (excerpt)
On Monday night into Tuesday morning, two dozen Senate Democrats -- members of the party's newly-formed Climate Action Task Force -- plan to hold a all-night, filibuster-like talkathon on the issue of global warming. "Congress must act," Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz, a leader of the group, said in a statement. "On Monday night we're going to show the growing number of senators who are committed to working together to confront climate change."
Senator after senator will undoubtedly join Schatz in insisting that Congress must act. But the Democratic talkathon is not about any action in particular. It's not being staged in support of, or opposition to, any specific legislative proposal. And if there were proposed legislation under consideration, Democrats could just pass it, or at least bring it up for debate and a vote, because they control the Senate with a 55-seat majority. But that, apparently, is not the point of the all-nighter. "The Democratic effort is cause for some confusion," USA Today reported over the weekend, "because these senators are calling for action in a chamber they control but without any specific legislation to offer up for a vote, or any timetable for action this year." ...
And then there are deep-pocket Democratic donors. A few weeks ago Reid and several leading Democratic senators attended a fundraiser at billionaire Tom Steyer's San Francisco home. The event, for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, also featured former Vice President Al Gore. "With the end of President Obama's tenure now in sight, wealthy environmentalists are pushing Democrats to take bolder positions on climate change -- vowing to emphasize the issue in swing-state contests and threatening to withhold money from candidates who support the Keystone XL oil pipeline," the Washington Post reported recently. "In the Senate, Reid has pledged to allot time to anyone who wants to discuss climate change during weekly party lunches or on the Senate floor. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is laying plans for an all-night talkathon on the subject."
The Democratic aide denied that the Senate all-nighter is a result of the San Francisco fundraiser. (Know them by what they deny.) "It's been in the works for months," he said. But Democrats know where their money is coming from. Steyer founded a political action committee called NextGen Climate Action and has announced plans to spend $100 million in the 2014 midterm elections "to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers," according to a New York Times report. An all-night talkathon is not exactly bold action. But perhaps it's enough for Democrats to show their big-money donors that they're doing something.
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