Senate pulls all-nighter to talk climate change

Updated

Climate change is the kind of issue that can keep a person up at night. In the Senate, they mean that quite literally.

Organized by the Senate’s new “climate caucus,” about 30 senators pulled an all-night “talkathon” Monday night to raise awareness of the dangers of climate change. 

But don’t confuse the rare overnighter with a filibuster. Because there’s no legislation under debate, the “talkathon” is simply a “talkathon.” In fact, organizers admitted climate change legislation doesn’t have a shot in Congress presently.

“If we went immediately to a vote, we wouldn’t be successful,” Rhode Island Democrat’s Sheldon Whitehouse said on a call with reporters. “If we make this an issue in 2014, if we make this a debate that Republican presidential candidates have to address, I think we can do that.”

The nearly 15-hour talkathon lasted until around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. Here are the top eight things to know about the “talkathon.”

1. Sen. Angus King nailed it.

“I rise tonight in puzzlement as to how this issue became a partisan issue,” Maine Independent Sen. Angus King said. “It’s a scientific issue.”

2. Sen. Harry Reid snarked the Koch brothers.

“Climate change is real. It’s here,” the Senate Majority leader said on the Senate floor. “It’s time to stop acting like those who ignore this crisis. For example, the oil barren Koch brothers and their allies in Congress have a valid point of view. They don’t.”

3. The one Senate Republican who stuck around

According to the Center for American Progress, a full 65% of Republicans in the Senate deny the existence of climate change or oppose action on it, so it should surprise no one that most of the Republicans didn’t stick around for the slumber party.

One Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has authored a book declaring climate change to be a “hoax,” declared that if the weather was cold, global warming couldn’t be a real thing. 

“Tonight for all night long, you can say ‘[climate change] is real, it’s real, it’s real,’ but people have heard that before,” Inhofe said. “We’ve gone through some cold spells that are shocking and setting records.”

Hawaiian Democrat Brian Schatz noted that even a “child” could distinguish between climate and weather.

“Weather is what will happen tomorrow,” he said. “Climate is what happens over time.”

4. Sen. Brian Schatz steps into the spotlight, fueled by Hawaii’s finest snacks

On the event’s organizers, the junior Hawaii Democrat spoke for a total of five hours, made up of 30-minute speeches spread out throughout thenight. He brought Hawaiian Kona coffee and macadamia nut chocolates for himself and fellow senators, according to the New York Times.

5. Energy-state Democrats bow out

Indicating just how partisan the issue can be is the absentee list: at least four energy state Democrats didn’t sign up for their caucus’s event. They’re also the Democrats widely seen to be the most vulnerable in this year’s midterm elections: Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

6. The number of senators representing states suffering from extreme weather patterns.

ThinkProgress has a lengthy list of the extreme weather patterns affecting the states of many of these senators, including the devastating drought affecting California, Sens. Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer’s home state, the rising sea levels in Schatz’ Hawaii, the wild fires in Sen. Mark Udall’s Colorodo and Sen. Maria Cantwell’s Washington state.

7. Quick, pencil Gillibrand in!

8. Keystone Pipeline gets slammed.

While the Keystone Pipeline has divided the Democrats’ caucus—and the president’s own adminstration has showed some support for it—that didn’t stop some senators from slamming it.

“It would be very good thing if the president right now rejected the use of tar sands oil in the Keystone pipeline,” Virginia’s Sen. Tim Kaine said. “Why would we embrace tar sands oil and backslide to a dirtier tomorrow?”

Global Warming

Senate pulls all-nighter to talk climate change

Updated