The League of Conservation Voters’ newly released National Environmental Scorecard underscores what’s become practical wisdom in Washington: Environmental leadership in Congress is divided starkly along partisan lines.
In a year President Obama has taken sweeping executive actions on the environment, House Republicans had the lowest average score since LCV began putting out the scorecard in 1970. Scores are based on a scale of 0 to 100 and calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes cast by the total number of votes tallied (for more on this, see LCV’s methodology). Average House Republican scores have dropped steadily in recent years, from an average of 17 percent in 2008, to 10 percent in 2012, down to the low average of 5 percent for 2013.
It’s considerably lower even than what congressional Republicans averaged during the Gingrich revolution in the 1990s. In the four years Newt Gingrich was House speaker, the average Republican score was 21.93 percent, according to LCV’s records.
This year’s scorecard looked at 13 Senate votes and 28 House votes, selected by leaders of 20 different green organizations as the major environmental votes in the first session of the 113th Congress. Overall, neither party came out looking particularly green. House members averaged 57 percent approving on environmental votes, while senators averaged 43 percent — both failing marks, by grade-school standards.
The cleavage between the parties is especially visible within Senate party leadership, where Democrats earned an average score of 98 percent to Republicans’ 9 percent. In the House, Democratic leaders earned an average of 86 percent to Republicans’ 6 percent.
“This scorecard is a disturbing reflection of the extent to which the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives continues to be controlled by tea-party climate-change deniers with an insatiable appetite for attacks on the environment and public health,” wrote the report’s authors.
A recent Pew Poll underscores that sentiment. The national survey conducted in October found just 25 percent of tea-party Republicans say there is solid evidence of global warming, compared with 61 percent of non-tea-party Republicans who say the same.
What We're Following See More »
When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage.
The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."
"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."
Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."
"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.