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Progressive House Democrats Warn Colleagues Not To Stand In The Way Of A ‘Green New Deal’

The progressive bloc of House Democrats supporting a “Green New Deal” have a warning for their more moderate colleagues: don’t get in the way of creating a “strong” climate committee.

“I think it’s in the political self-interest of people like Frank Pallone to be supporting a strong select committee,” said Democratic California Rep. Ro Khanna, Politico reported Thursday.

“If I were looking at the politics and the movement and how strong the movement is, I’d be out there cheerleading for creating a strong committee and saying I look forward to working in partnership with that committee,” Khanna said.

New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone and other top Democrats oppose creating a House climate change committee, preferring to shepherd any related legislation through the existing committee structure. Global warming wasn’t a top issue in the 2018 elections, but liberal Democrats are pushing for the House to put a major emphasis on the issue in 2019.

Khanna and Democrats supporting the so-called “Green New Deal” want a House climate committee that’s just as strong as others, meaning subpoena power and the authority to introduce bills.

The “Green New Deal” being pushed by incoming New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is backed by more than 40 Democrats. The plan calls for a House committee to draft “Green New Deal” legislation to move the U.S. to 100 percent green energy.

Pallone will chair the Committee on Energy and Commerce in 2019. He and other incoming committee chairs plan to hold hearings and introduce their own bills on global warming when they take the gavel next year. These incoming chairs don’t see the reason to create a whole new committee on the matter.

“In part, I think it may actually delay what the progressives are trying to achieve,” Pallone said in November.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supports reviving a House climate panel, but indications are so far that it would likely lack subpoena power. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t seem to mind the panel not having subpoena power, but environmental activists weren’t satisfied.

Activists with the Sunrise Movement at least twice protested in Pelosi’s Capitol Hill office in support of the “Green New Deal.” Ocasio-Cortez joined activists occupying Pelosi’s office in November, but still supports Pelosi’s bid for speaker next year.

Khanna, a “Green New Deal” supporter, said empowering a House climate committee with subpoena powers would help other committees.

“We’ve got to get the committees to realize that they are winners by empowering a new committee — not losers — and stop the Washington mindset of hanging onto turf,” Khanna said.

Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, who is set to chair the Committee on Rules next year, told reporters the exact makeup of the committee is still up in the air. McGovern supports the “Green New Deal.”

“I’ve got until January 3,” McGovern said. “There are ways to achieve all the goals that have been put out there within the existing structures.”

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