Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz sounded a note of optimism Thursday that Congress will ultimately address climate change, but he said the administration is rapidly moving ahead with actions it can take without legislation to tackle the growing threat to the global environment.
“We will now be focusing on the challenge of what we can and will ultimately do in legislation even as we carry out President Obama’s very aggressive climate-change action plan,” Moniz said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies to mark the 40-year anniversary of the Arab Oil Embargo.
As one example, Moniz said his department is on track to issue new energy-efficiency standards for electric motors next month. He also stressed the need for the U.S. to build up its renewable-energy portfolio as part of the president’s “all of the above” approach to energy production and make improvements to the electric grid to guard against the threat of cyberattacks and natural disasters.
“Climate is a real threat-multiplier, potentially,” Moniz said. “It’s a security issue as well as an environmental issue.”
Moniz made a point of challenging members of Congress who have become known as “climate deniers.”
“What I consider not debatable,” he said, “is the need to respond prudently to the risks of climate change.” He added: “I believe, frankly, we have turned the corner on that issue. I believe that we are — including in our Congress — really past the issue of whether we need to respond.”
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.