Green New Deal Resolution Launches With 61 Representatives, 13 Senators as Co-Sponsors

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 09 Feb 2019 06:45:00 GMT

Following Thursday’s announcement of the Green New Deal Ocasio-Markey resolution, supporters have announced several dozen co-sponsors, including 61 members of the House of Representatives (two non-voting) and 9 U.S. senators.

The list, from Justice Democrats, is below:

FULL TEXT: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey Release Green New Deal Resolution

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 07 Feb 2019 20:11:00 GMT

In front of the U.S. Capitol building, Rep. Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today announced the introduction of resolution “recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal” that builds a just, full-employment economy to stop global warming.

The resolution now has 64 original co-sponsors in the House and 9 in the Senate.

The full text of the resolution (PDF) is below:

Democrats Announce Members of Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 07 Feb 2019 19:13:00 GMT

Rep. Kathy Castor (Fla.), chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, has announced the Democratic members: Reps. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Donald McEachin (Va.) and Joe Neguse (Colo.).

Luján is by far the biggest recipient among the committee of fossil-fuel dollars. He received $159,600 in campaign contributions from oil & gas, mining, chemical, electric utilities, and other energy interests in the last election cycle. Over his career, he has received $386,150 from oil & gas and electric utility companies and their employees. As Assistant Democratic Leader, he is now the number four Democrat in the House.

New Climate Committee Chair: Priorities Include Fuel Economy, Flood Insurance

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 15 Jan 2019 15:39:00 GMT

“We are in a race against time,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), the incoming chair of the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, told reporters. In an interview with USA Today’s Ledyard King, Castor highlighted not just the urgency of the climate crisis but also her interest in pursuing new fuel economy standards and flood insurance reform, practical policy problems that have remained stalled under the Republican Congress and Trump administration.

While not enforcing a band on fossil-fuel contributions for members of the committee, Castor has pledged that she will not accept such donations as chair to “help build confidence in the committee.”

Castor’s plans come in the context of the vigorous push by youth climate activists and new members of Congress for an ambitious Green New Deal, that arguably would build on elements of President Obama’s economic stimulus package of 2009.

“There’s some fabulous proposals in the Green New Deal, and I’m excited about all that. You may see some similar language. Clearly, the focuses are going to be the same,” Castor told The Hill. “This will be a committee clearly in the spirit of the Green New Deal.”

“People don’t understand how forward-leaning the stimulus was on climate issues,” Castor told Michael Grunwald in a Politico interview. “It’s a road map for a Green New Deal.”

More highlights of Rep. Castor’s interview with The Hill’s Timothy Cama:
“I’m hoping that folks will come to this committee ready to take on the corporate polluters and special interests. There shouldn’t be a purity test, that if a member of Congress has ever accepted contributions,” she said.

Castor said she has decided not to take any donations from fossil fuel companies.

“I think me saying that right now will help build confidence in the committee,” she said, noting that such a pledge won’t be a “huge sacrifice,” since she has received just about $2,000 in campaign donations from the oil and natural gas industries during 12 years in office.

Democratic House Likely To Rekindle ExxonKnew Investigations

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Dec 2018 19:05:00 GMT

With both houses of Congress under a Republican majority, investigating the malfeasance of the oil industry has not been a priority. Instead, Republicans have held hearings investigating the officials who are investigating the oil industry.

However, with the House moving to Democratic control, Congressional oversight will become a renewed priority. That primarily involves overseeing the work of the Executive Branch, but also includes corporate behavior of national interest.

The “ExxonKnew” controversy is the evidence that Exxon and other oil majors knew for decades that their products cause dangerous global warming but decided to run a disinformation and political interference campaign to avoid regulation of their pollution.

A leading Congressman in calling for investigation is Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) who repeatedly called for Congressional investigations in 2016. However, he is not currently on the committees with jurisdiction (that could change in the new year).

Another is Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), a former attorney for NRDC, who sits on the Natural Resources Committee and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, both of which potentially have oversight jurisdiction.

Another potential leader on this is Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), the incoming chair of the Science Oversight subcommittee, who has spoken out in support of actions by state attorneys general to investigate Exxon.

19 No Fossil Fuel Money Freshmen Join U.S. Congress

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 24 Nov 2018 20:44:00 GMT

Nineteen members-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives took the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, refusing to accept campaign contributions from the fossil-fuel industry and running on a climate-justice platform. The freshmen No Fossil Fuel Money class is remarkably diverse, in terms of race, gender, geography, and district partisanship.

Katie Hill CA-25
Harley Rouda CA-48
Mike Levin CA-49
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell FL-26
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia IL-04
Ayanna Pressley MA-07
Andy Levin MI-09
Rashida Tlaib MI-13
Dean Phillips MN-03
Ilhan Omar MN-05
Chris Pappas NH-01
Debra A. Haaland NM-01
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez NY-14
Madeleine Dean PA-04
Mary Gay Scanlon PA-05
Susan Wild PA-07
Elaine Luria VA-02
Jennifer Wexton VA-10
Kim Schrier WA-08

In Senate Testimony, Kavanaugh Implicated Georgetown Prep 'Friends' For Alcohol-Related 'Trouble'

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 20 Sep 2018 20:09:00 GMT

During the third day of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Kavanaugh about “getting into trouble” at the elite all-boys school Georgetown Prep, eliciting nervous laughter.

Dodging the question, Kavanaugh told Kennedy that at Georgetown Prep, “I had a lot of friends, I’ve talked a lot about my friends. And they’ve been here. So it was very formative.”

When Kennedy pressed his question about “trouble,” Kavanaugh replied, “That’s encompassed by the friends, I think.”


Kennedy concluded by saying he’s decided to not ask Kavanaugh whether his underage friends were “sneaking a few beers past Jesus.” Kavanaugh shook his head, said “Hey,” and giggled again in response to a comment not caught by the microphone.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) took the microphone, saying, “I for one am grateful for the senator’s self-restraint.”

It is unknown what motivated Kennedy’s questions at the time, although Kavanaugh’s close friend and classmate Mike G. Judge recorded in his book Wasted the binge drinking that dominated those years at Georgetown Prep. Similarly, Kavanaugh’s yearbook entry made repeated references to keg parties and vomiting.

After the hearing, it was revealed that professor Christine Blasey Ford had informed members of Congress that Kavanaugh and Judge had sexually assaulted her while they were all in high school.

Full transcript:

In Speech About Being An Impartial Judge, Kavanaugh Discloses Close Friendships With Corporate Elite

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Sep 2018 14:07:00 GMT

In a 2015 address to Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh discusses his friendships with and envy of America’s corporate elite. Arguing in favor of an “impartial” judiciary, Kavanaugh discusses how he knows these men, whether from his days at the boy’s-only Georgetown Prep, Yale, in the George W. Bush White House, or at the corporate law powerhouse Kirkland & Ellis.

In his prepared remarks for the speech given March 30, 2015, Kavanaugh planned to make a joke about how popular one of his wealthiest friends, Mike Bidwell, is:
I am proud to say that three Georgetown Prep classmates of mine—Mike Bidwill, Don Urgo, and Phil Merkle—happen to be 1990 graduates of this law school. They remain very good friends of mine, and they well reflect the values and excellence of both Georgetown Prep and this law school. You may recognize Mike Bidwill’s name. He is the President of the Arizona Cardinals football team. I am pretty sure he is on the Dean’s speed dial. Yet he is the same humble, generous, friendly guy he was when he was fourteen years old.
Kavanaugh diverged from his prepared remarks, however:
By coincidence, three classmates of mine at Georgetown Prep were graduates of this law school in 1990. And are really really good friends of mine: Mike Bidwill, Don Urgo and Phil Merkle. And they were good friends of mine then. And are still good friends of mine; as recently as this weekend, when we were all on email together.

Bidwill has used his team’s website to support Kavanaugh’s nomination. As Deadspin writer Samer Kalaf notes, he then “went on a conservative radio show to continue to push for his old high school pal” and “bellyached about how unfair it is to be criticized for requiring that NFL players only protest or demonstrate where no one can see them.”

Don Urgo Jr. is a corporate lawyer who now helps run his father’s hotel management business, Urgo Hotels & Resorts.

Philip Merkle is the director of the Office of Administration at the U.S. Department of Justice. He has worked at DOJ since 1996.

Kavanaugh continued:
But fortunately, we had a good saying that we’ve held firm to to this day, as the Dean was reminding me before the talk, which is, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.” That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.

This line earned some mild chuckles from the audience.

Now that Kavanaugh is in line to join fellow Georgetown Prep alumnus Neil Gorsuch on the highest court in the land, it appears that “what happens at Georgetown Prep” may not stay there. He and fellow classmate Mark G. Judge have been accused of sexual assault by professor Christine Blasey Ford. There is no statute of limitations on such a crime in Maryland.

Kavanaugh continued:
The Dean [Dan Attridge] is a wonderful man. He and I worked together at Kirkland and Ellis. We had memorable cases and lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis. I think back at those times.
Dan Attridge’s Kirkland & Ellis page notes one of his “ground-breaking” victories:
Counsel for Nationwide Insurance in over 400 Hurricane Katrina coverage cases in Mississippi, winning the ground-breaking first case to go to trial and defeating the Attorney General’s challenge to the policy’s flood exclusion.

Attridge’s victory cost Katrina victims billions of dollars in damages. Immediately after the ruling, insurance company stocks rose by 2 percent.

At the time, Kavanaugh was working in the Bush White House, as the administration’s racist neglect in the run-up to and aftermath of Katrina led to the death of 3000 Americans. The White House and Senator Grassley have refused to make public Kavanaugh’s role in the Katrina disaster.

Kavanaugh went on to describe his envy of another fellow corporate lawer:
And one person comes to mind that we worked with, was a guy who was a little younger than I was, named Ted Ullyot. And Ted was a great lawyer, great guy, and he worked with us at Kirkland. Then, when I was at the White House and became this job called staff secretary, I had to hire a deputy. And Ted was a great lawyer and I brought him in as my deputy. And then I went on to be a judge. And I remember getting a call from him in 2007 or 2008. And he said, “Yeah, I’m gonna go take this job in California.” “Oh wow, doing what?” “I’m gonna be general counsel of this company.” And I had never heard of the company he was talking about. It was a general counsel of Facebook. And that turned out to be a really good move. Yeah. And that’s been a…

You know, I am committed to public service, as I said, but I do spend some time reading Robert Frost, “The road not taken.”

Ullyot also served a chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Ullyot is now a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Kavanaugh then went back to his prepared remarks to say that he believes in being an impartial judge.

Senate Democrats Fundraise Off Kavanaugh's Nomination While Doing Little to Stop Him

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 06 Sep 2018 01:16:00 GMT

Claiming unified opposition to the nomination of Trump Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Democrats are fundraising to help re-elect incumbents who are not opposing Kavanaugh. In an email to its list in Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)’s voice, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee wrote, “We need to stand together. So much is at stake.”

The email linked to a petition to “oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination” and then to a fundraising page to “Save the Supreme Court” and “Help Elect Senate Democrats.”

It is unclear how contributing to the DSCC would help save the Supreme Court from Kavanaugh, described in the DSCC email as a ” pre-selected political ideologue, nominated possibly because he believes a sitting president should be shielded from civil lawsuits, criminal investigation, and prosecution—no matter the facts.”

For there to be any likelihood of Kavanaugh’s nomination failing, the 49-member Democratic caucus would need to be unanimous in their opposition. But that is not the case—in particular with the vulnerable Democrats most heavily backed by the DSCC. As CNN reports, “Senators signal Kavanaugh appears on solid ground to win confirmation” :

“Not so far,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, told CNN Wednesday afternoon when asked if anything she’s heard so far would be considered disqualifying.

“No, I haven’t seen anything from that standpoint,” Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said when asked if he’s heard anything that would lead him to vote no. “He’s handled himself very professionally.”

Sen. Doug Jones, the Democrat from Alabama who won his special election after Gorsuch was confirmed, was non-committal when asked about Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

In addition to Heitkamp, Manchin, and Jones, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana are equivocal on Kavanaugh.

Update 9/6:

Liberal Senate Democrats praised Schumer’s failure to whip the caucus against Kavanaugh, as requested by a coalition of progressive advocacy organizations, Politico’s Burgess Everett and Elana Schor report:

“There is universal confidence in the Democratic Caucus for Sen. Schumer, whether they’re the progressives or the more conservative members of our caucus. There’s strong respect and admiration for how he handles diversity in our caucus,” said Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin.

“They’re the people that you can’t be pure enough for,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). of Schumer’s detractors. “Unless we can convince a few Republicans, then we don’t have the votes. That’s goal No. 1 and the outside groups should stay focused on that.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). praised Schumer for “holding a very wide ranging caucus together in a way that has made strong points in the hearing without causing problems for our 2018 candidates.”

“There is what I call Democrat disease, which is to waste our time fighting with each other and quarreling over purity contests,” Whitehouse said. “And of all times to lose our way in those quarrels, this is perhaps the worst.”

In an interview with The Hill, Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois was similarly critical: “The Senate doesn’t work that way, and the groups that are asking for it are not in touch with reality.”

As whip, Durbin is the senator officially responsible for wrangling the votes of the Democratic caucus.

In an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish, Whitehouse similarly criticized the hearing protesters for being “not helpful” particularly for “the states in which we have, you know, our Senate races.”

Everett and Schor editorialize that letting Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court in return for electoral victories in November would “vindicate” Schumer: “If a handful of red-state Democrats eventually support Kavanaugh and then win reelection, Schumer’s strategy will be vindicated.”

Full text of the email:

Brett Kavanaugh Has A Consistent Record Of Attacking Climate Action

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 10 Jul 2018 17:47:00 GMT

Trump Supreme Court nominee and former George W. Bush White House official Brett Kavanaugh has ruled repeatedly on behalf of industrial polluters, particularly on climate change. As a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (the D.C. Circuit), Kavanaugh has argued, sometimes successfully, to block action on carbon pollution.

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