There’s a big group of Republicans who’ll be new U.S. senators in January, and despite the overwhelming evidence, all of them are climate deniers. One of them – Iowa’s Joni Ernst – is committed to dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency altogether.
But even in a party that’s uniformly hostile to the basics of climate science, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who won re-election yesterday by 40 points, stands out as unique. Consider what the right-wing lawmaker told Voice of Christian Youth America in 2012 about his latest book against global warming.
“[T]he Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Right. The 20-year Senate veteran believes climate science can’t be real because it conflicts with his interpretation of a phrase in the Old Testament.
I mention this because, as a result of yesterday’s election results, Inhofe is slated to become the new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
No, seriously. Senate Republicans, once they’re in the majority, will be finally be able to put specific members in charge of committees that oversee specific areas of public policy, and the GOP wants Inhofe in charge of the panel devoted to the environment.
The fact that the far-right Oklahoman is aggressively anti-environment is largely seen as a feature, not a bug.
Of course, Inhofe isn’t the only colorful character poised to pick up sought after gavels.
The official decisions won’t be announced for several weeks, though we can start to draw some safe assumptions given the current committee lineups, seniority, etc.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), for example, is likely to head the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite the fact that he’s not an attorney, and despite the fact that he’s often been routinely confused about issues such as judicial confirmations.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is almost certain to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, despite his deeply unfortunate record on matters of national security.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is well positioned to take over the Senate Homeland Security committee, despite his often bizarre understanding of security policy.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is likely to become chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, despite his complete inability to understand the basics of budgetary policy.
Also look for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) to take control of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to take over the Science and Space panel (stop laughing); Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to lead the Finance Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to chair the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Senate Intelligence Committee gavel will likely go to either Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) or Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho).
It’s probably not realistic to think regular voters are going to think about their choices in this electoral context, but when Americans back a Republican Senate candidate, the candidate wins, and his or her party becomes the majority, it has a ripple effect that changes federal policymaking on a much broader scale.
It leads, for example, to Senate Environment Committee Chairman James Inhofe.