Bipartisan climate working group forms in Senate, led by Sens. Coons, Braun
By Danny Richter
Two Senators are stepping up to the plate on climate change in a major way. Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, and Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, are creating a bipartisan climate caucus in the Senate. The news broke Thursday with this story from Abby Smith in the Washington Examiner. Smith writes that this “bipartisan duo are organizing the new caucus, which is still in the planning stages and will be formally unveiled in the coming weeks.”
Sen. Braun told the Washington Examiner that climate change should be a “bridge issue.” He also said he is hopeful several of his Republican colleagues will join the caucus with him.
Sen. Coons agreed, saying, “Combating climate change will require all of us—Democrats and Republicans—to come together around bipartisan solutions.”
Structure and purpose
Though details are not yet clear how this group will be structured or exactly who will join, the purpose of the group is unmistakable: cross-party climate dialogue. Bringing members of both parties together for productive conversations is a crucial first step to finding common ground on major legislation. Coons’ and Braun’s group will now provide the only dedicated space for respectful, cooperative climate discussions in the Senate.
This is similar to the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives. Originally formed in 2016 and enjoying impressive growth since then, thanks to encouragement from CCL volunteers across the country, the Climate Solutions Caucus is a place for members of different parties to come together and openly discuss ideas and solutions to climate change.
Listening and taking action
Last year, Sen. Coons introduced the first bipartisan carbon pricing bill the Senate had seen in almost a decade. This move with Sen. Braun shows he is making climate a top priority and is willing to engage colleagues across the aisle. That’s good news, because a poll this spring from Luntz Global showed that 4 out of 5 voters want Congress to put politics aside and reach a bipartisan solution on climate change. This new Senate working group is tackling an issue Americans are concerned about, and the bipartisan approach is one Americans overwhelmingly approve of.
Sen. Braun, too, is listening closely to his constituents. According to the most recent Climate Opinion Maps from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 64 percent of Hoosiers know climate change is happening. A full 74% of them want to see CO2 regulated as a pollutant. And among young Republicans, 77% consider climate change a “serious threat.” Hoosiers and young Republicans both are ready for their elected officials to figure out a solution, and Sen. Braun is taking action.
Gratitude from the grassroots
Citizens’ Climate Lobby would like to thank Sen. Coons and Sen. Braun for their leadership on this issue. When 1,500 CCL volunteers came to Washington, D.C., this summer, they asked all Senators to make climate change a bridge issue, not a wedge issue. They hoped to see meaningful conversations and, ultimately, legislation from members on both sides of the aisle. The formation of this bipartisan working group shows that both Sen. Coons and Sen. Braun are listening to their constituents and taking clear, positive action in response. We applaud them and are grateful for their leadership.
Danny Richter is CCL’s Vice President of Government Affairs and is based in Washington, D.C.