Newspaper article Roll Call

Vulnerable Democrats Missing from All-Night Climate Change Debate

Newspaper article Roll Call

Vulnerable Democrats Missing from All-Night Climate Change Debate

Article excerpt

Thirty Senate Democrats are scheduled to stage an all-night talkathon to address climate change and its deniers, but notably missing from the extensive roster of speakers are moderate Democrats, especially those who are up for re-election in 2014.

According to a list of participating senators provided by Democrats, the most politically vulnerable among them will not speak: Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and John Walsh of Montana. Interviews with several moderate Democrats on Monday suggested they were not invited to contribute to the event, while GOP campaigns hit Senate Democrats generally for staging such a stand on the floor.

"I will not be [speaking]," Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, said before votes Monday. "I will not be, but I think what they're doing is helpful."

The all-night floor session, organized by the Senate Climate Action Task Force, was designed to highlight the consequences of the warming planet and urge Congress to take up climate change legislation, last considered comprehensively in 2010. But an unintended consequence of the effort was to highlight divisions in the party, especially on energy issues, which put these senators -- especially from energy-rich states -- in a tough spot.

Landrieu and Begich, for example, come from states with economies that rely significantly on drilling.

Divisions among Democrats on climate change issues and how to legislate them are nothing new.

In 2010, now-Sen. Joe Manchin III infamously put a bullet through that failed cap-and-trade bill in a campaign spot entitled "Dead Aim" before winning a seat in the coal-dominated state of West Virginia. In 2014, it appears Manchin and others like him weren't invited to the all-night floor session, which was informally arranged, by word-of-mouth between senators involved on the task force.

"I would be happy to participate if they would want me to," Manchin said, noting in passing that he is working on a potential response with Sen. …

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