The Climate in Emergency

A weekly blog on science, news, and ideas related to climate change

The Climate of Congress 2: The US House of Representatives

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The conventional wisdom this year is that the US House of Representatives is unassailably Republican because there are too few Republican seats with a reasonable likelihood of flipping. That sounds like bad news for us because, while this blog is strictly non-partisan, Republicans collectively have built a very bad record on climate in recent years.

But not all Republicans are climate-hostile. In fact, there are Republican members of the House Climate Solutions Caucus. So, even if the House stays in Republican hands, if enough of those Republicans are willing to cross the aisle to support the planet, we should be in good shape.

So, how likely is a climate-sane House of Representatives? What districts need support?

Currently, there are 248 Republican Representatives and 192 Democrats (one seat is vacant, or at least was as of June). According to the Cook Report, 56 are competitive, meaning vulnerable to being flipped. 45 of these are currently Republican, 11 currently Democrat. So, the Democrats are likely to pick up seats, maybe a lot of seats, but are unlikely to gain the majority. Of those 45 competitive Republican seats, almost half are considered “leaning” towards or “likely” to stay Republican. A modestly optimistic scenario is therefore that the Democrats see a net gain of 24 seats. Still not a majority.

But if all House Democrats are climate-sane, the Democrats do gain those 24 seats, and the Republican majority after November includes at least 23 climate-sane people, we will be able to pass real climate legislation at last.

Now, of those 45 competitive Republican seats, just 13 are currently held by avowed climate deniers who are running for re-election (several races have no incumbent this year). Nine of the seats have no incumbent. That leaves 22 Republicans running for re-election who are either climate sane or have not seen fit to announce publicly that they’re not (which probably means they’re convertible). Following so far?

Of the 13 races with denier incumbents, one is actually leaning Democrat. Four more are considered toss-ups, by the Cook Report, and four lean Republican. That means it’s not out of the question that seven climate deniers could lose their seats to Democrats this year.

If the Democrats pick up 24 seats including those of the seven vulnerable deniers and the nine with no incumbent, then only eight other House Republicans have to be climate-sane for the planet to win.

Are they?

Seven Republicans who hold non-competitive seats are members of the House Climate Solutions Caucus. Surely there is one more in there somewhere?

So, make sure to vote in November. If your Representative is currently a Republican running for re-election, be sure to vote Democrat. And if that incumbent Rep is a climate denier, do whatever you can to flip that seat.

The seven vulnerable climate deniers are:

Jeff Denham, CA-10

Scott Tipton, CO-03

Scott Garrett, MN-03

Mike Coffman, CO-06

David Young, IA-03

Bruce Poliquin, ME-02

Frank Guinta, NH-01

Rod Blum, IA-01

Much depends on these people getting their pink slips from the American People in November.

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Author: Caroline Ailanthus

I am a creative science writer. That is, most of my writing is creative rather than technical, but my topic is usually science. I enjoy explaining things and exploring ideas. I have one published novel and another on the way. I have a master's degree in Conservation Biology and I work full-time as a writer.

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