Senate Passes Budget Without Addressing Climate Change…Sort of
Early this week the Senate approved the same basic budget plan that passed the House last week. As we reported, this budget failed to include an amendment introduced by Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) to consider national security and economic risks associated with human-induced climate change. This amendment previously passed in the Senate and should have instructed the House to include climate risks in their budget. But the House stripped the amendment before voting on and passing the budget.
Since the budget is a non-binding proposal that sets up a series of votes in the coming months, it does not require President Obama’s signature. In other words for this budget to become law, the Senate needs to draft and vote on legislation that would, in effect, implement it. This is good news because it gives us time to reach out to our Senators and urge them to vote “No” on any budget legislation that does not include climate change. Even though President Obama has threatened to veto many of the bills that will be voted on to implement the budget, he has not indicated concern that the budget stripped the climate change amendment. That means that we’re going to have to keep the pressure on the Senate — for now.
As if to underline the importance of this vote, we learned that the average concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time since the record-keeping began. Scientists have determined that this dubious milestone requires global attention. But we can’t address climate catastrophe if our government won’t even consider it in the most basic budgets that fund our nation for the next ten years. We can’t wait a decade to address what is affecting all of our lives right now. Stay tuned for more information on how to keep the pressure on the Senate and candidates for president.