Senator Edward Markey bemoaned the political gridlock that has overtaken Congress and urged Boston business leaders to ask Republicans to pass climate change legislation during an address to members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Friday.
“The more legislation is blocked, the more it hurts the Massachusetts business community,” Markey said.
The liberal Senator catered to the business leaders who had gathered in a gilded hotel conference room to hear him speak Friday.
Addressing the audience, Markey sought to frame the Democratic legislative agenda as good business sense. Markey noted the audience, comprised of business people, might be more likely to identify with conservative principles.
He highlighted the economic benefits he said could be accrued from climate change legislation, federal research funding, and energy policies—causes that he has championed since he was elected to Congress in 1976.
Markey, who now sits on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Committee on the Environment and Public Works, asserted that the energy policies laid out by the EPA several weeks ago—which mandate a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030—are attainable for Massachusetts.
Although Republican leaders and conservative groups, including the national Chamber, have called the new goals disastrous, Markey sees them as an opportunity.
According to the senator, Massachusetts has been recognized as the most efficient state nationwide and Boston, an environmental leader among cities. As an environmental leader, Massachusetts has a chance to sell its green technologies to other states.
Markey also discussed Net Neutrality, which the Federal Communications Commission has threatened to overhaul. Limiting the internet to “fast and slow lanes” would stifle the innovation and creativity incubated by Boston area startups and companies, he said.
Markey added that Congress will soon have to address whether to extend certain tax incentives, refurbish important transportation funding, and avoid sequestration, which he says may “rise from the dead, killing more jobs” a year from now.
Markey argued that the Boston business community should pressure the Republican Party to return to its roots as a pragmatic body, and said the Tea Party has gained too much control over the broader GOP. Republicans, he said, need to accept the compromises that are at the heart of the legislative process.
Markey briefly touched on immigration reform, urging Boston businesses to ensure that skilled foreign laborers who staff Boston laboratories and universities have the visas they need to remain here.
He also addressed the current turmoil that has gripped Iraq. He argued against redeploying troops in Iraq and said that the current crisis demands an “Iraqi political solution, not an American military one.”