Sen. Mike Lee didn’t quite bring a snowball onto the Senate floor. But the Utah Republican’s prop-filled speech Tuesday mocking the proposed Green New Deal resolution on addressing climate change elicited similar incredulous reactions from Democrats.
Lee’s speech — in which the conservative Mormon argued, seemingly genuinely, that the “real solution to climate change” was to have more children — included a dramatic portrait of former President Ronald Reagan firing a machine gun while on the back of a velociraptor, photos of Star Wars characters and Aquaman, and frames from the sci-fi disaster movie “Sharknado.”
Sen. Markey, the Senate’s lead sponsor of the Green New Deal, was not amused.
“When the Midwest is flooded and people have died because of climate-related extreme weather, it is shameful to joke about climate change,” the Massachusetts Democrat tweeted Tuesday, referring to the historic flooding in the U.S. plains states.
Researchers estimate that the effects of climate change could result in a net increase of hundreds of thousands of deaths a year over the next few decades.
“This is exactly Democrats’ point — Republicans only want to make a mockery of the climate crisis,” he wrote Tuesday. “We will not let them.”
When the Midwest is flooded and people have died because of climate-related extreme weather, it is shameful to joke about climate change. This is exactly Democrats’ point – Republicans only want to make a mockery of the climate crisis. We will not let them. https://t.co/uDXXmltMq5
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) March 26, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the House sponsor of the Green New Deal, also blasted Lee for his speech Tuesday.
“If this guy can be Senator, you can do anything,” the New York congresswoman wrote on Twitter.
Like many other women + working people, I occasionally suffer from impostor syndrome: those small moments, especially on hard days, where you wonder if the haters are right.
But then they do things like this to clear it right up.
If this guy can be Senator, you can do anything. https://t.co/vU4ChbTnnr
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 26, 2019
Markey and Ocasio-Cortez wrote and introduced the Green New Deal resolution last month, outlining the steps they say are necessary to head off climate change. The plan includes massive investments to create jobs in renewable energy and a goal of reducing the United States’ carbon footprint to zero by 2030. According to proponents, the ambitious proposal is necessary to avoid the potentially calamitous impacts of intensifying climate change.
However, Lee said Tuesday that he was treating the Green New Deal with “the level of seriousness it deserves.”
“I am mostly afraid of not being able to get through this speech with a straight face,” he said.
“The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution, but the serious business of human flourishing — the solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places: fall in love, get married, and have some kids,” Lee said, arguing that more children would boost the country’s eventual capacity to address climate change.
United Nations scientists say the world has roughly a decade to make the necessary reductions in emissions that would keep global warming below dangerous levels.
The debate the Senate held Tuesday was not the one Green New Deal supporters wanted. In his floor speech, Markey accused Sen. Mitch McConnell of holding a “sham” vote meant to divide Democrats, since the Republican majority leader allowed no hearings or expert testimony beforehand. The proposal was rejected in a vote Tuesday afternoon, with 53 Republicans, three Democrats, and one independent voting against the resolution, while the rest of the Democratic caucus voted “present.”
“Where is the Republican plan to deal with the science?” Markey asked in his speech. “If you do not believe it’s a threat, then say it. If you do not believe the science, then say it. But if you do believe the science, then all we say to you is where’s your plan to deal with this challenge.”
For now, it seems the Republican answer — or at least for Lee — is more babies.