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The Week in Climate Hearings: Eco-Fascist and Santos-Free

Demonization of immigrants and protection of oil as the world turns to desert

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). The rest of the House Republican New York caucus is worse. Credit: Jabin Botsford

The absurd fabulist Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is a member of the House of Representatives no longer, expelled by a vote of 311 to 114 on December 1st. The last time Congress expelled a member who hadn’t been convicted of a felony was during the Civil War.

Senators will be working “long days and nights, and potentially weekends” this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is speaking remotely to senators this afternoon, but Republicans are conditioning further military support for Ukraine on a crackdown on asylum-seekers and other immigrants. Despite earlier reports that the White House was open to a deal, Democrats have since rejected the Republicans’ insistence on cruelty towards climate migrants.

Meanwhile, support in Congress for the campaign of ethnic cleansing waged by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government against Gaza after the brutal Hamas attacks is wavering as the U.S.-backed reign of retaliatory terror turns a light of human civilization into toxic rubble. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced last night that emergency military funds for the “right-wing, extremist government in Israel” sought by President Joe Biden would be “irresponsible”:

“What the Netanyahu government is doing is immoral. It is in violation of international law ― and the United States should not be complicit in those actions.”

John F. Kirby, the spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, defended the Israeli military on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, saying he believed “they have been receptive to our messages here of trying to minimalize [sic] civilian casualties.”

In less than a month, Israeli Defense Forces have launched over 10,000 airstrikes in the densely populated Gaza Strip, killing more than 15,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, as they systematically erase the cities in the territory from north to south.

The eco-fascist turn of the collapsing Republican Party is accelerating. As Tori Otten writes, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a wildly xenophobic ad on Monday, falsely depicting several national parks from Acadia to Zion overrun with immigrants, using graphics made by AI image generators. The ad promotes the House’s vote last week to pass H.R. 5283, legislation from anti-immigrant demagogue Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) that bans the use of federal lands for asylum seekers and climate migrants. The six Democrats who joined every Republican but Santos (who voted present) in support of the bill were Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Don Davis (N.C.), Jared Golden (Maine), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Mary Peltola (Alaska), and Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez (Wash.).

Which leads us to today’s hearings, featuring more New York Republican eco-fascist demagoguery.

Tuesday, December 5

A Niger soldier looks at the graves of the soldiers killed before the arrival of the Leaders of the G5 Sahel nations in Niamey, on December 15, 2019. Credit: Boureima Hama

All of the hearings listed for Tuesday are in the House of Representatives.

At 10 am, Homeland Security Committee emergency management subcommittee chair Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) holds a hearing backing the right-wing immigration fearmongering entitled “Protecting our Preparedness: Assessing the Impact of the Border Crisis on Emergency Management.” It’s an all-male, all New-York-City-region panel: Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman, Clinton County sheriff David Favro, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York president Andrew Ansbro, and, as the Democratic witness, New York Immigration Coalition executive director Murad Awawdeh, the son of Palestinian immigrants.

Also at 10 am, the climate subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing directed at the ongoing COP 28 climate talks, backing “all-of-the-above” energy policy. Witnesses include oil lobbyist Anne Bradbury, nuclear-energy advocate David Gattie, and energy economist Noah Kaufman of the industry-backed Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy.

And the Transportation water subcommittee looks at the future of the Water Resources Development Acts, which determine water management for the desertifying American West, with Army Corps of Engineers leaders Michael Connor and Scott Spellmon.

At 10:30 am, the Natural Resources oversight subcommittee holds a hearing attacking limits on national parks air tourism.

The hearings in the afternoon are more consequential than that, however. At noon, the Foreign Affairs Africa subcommittee, led by chair John James (R-Mich.) and ranking member Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), speaks with top State and Defense officials on the overwhelming crisis unfolding in the Sahel, with every country collapsing into war, terror, and dictatorship under the relentless pressure of global-warming driven drought and desertification. As USAID official Bob Jenkins plans to testify,

“Climate shocks – dangerously high temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and frequent droughts – exacerbate conflict by pushing people to herd, farm, or fish in areas controlled by violent extremists like Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic State, and Boko Haram.”

At 2 pm, Energy and Commerce marks up 44 pieces of legislation, including two pro-nuclear bills (H.R. 6544 and H.R. 5718), a suite of legislation to block energy efficiency standards for transformers, appliances, the electric grid, and pre-fab housing (H.R. 4167, H.R. 6192, H.R. 6185, and H.R. 6421), and a bill backing small-scale hydropower (H.R. 4045).

Also at 2 pm, the federal lands subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee discusses the timber industry and forest management on Tribal lands. The subcommittee is led by climate denier Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wisc.), with Green New Dealer Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) the ranking member.

Wednesday, December 6

At 10 am, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act investments in habitat and ecosystem restoration, pollinators, and wildlife crossings with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Martha Williams and Federal Highway Administration Associate Administrator for Federal Lands Brian Fouch.

In the House, the Natural Resources Committee will mark up eight pieces of legislation, including two bills to revert Biden administration oil and gas policies: H.R. 6009 from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) to block the implementation of federally mandated increases in oil and gas lease pricing, and H.R. 6285 from Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) to kill limits on drilling Alaska’s coastal plain. Other legislation being marked up include H.R. 1449 from Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), which encourages the development of major geothermal projects on federal lands, and the bipartisan BEACH Act (H.R. 5490), which expands existing limits on development of coastal barrier regions.

Simultaneously, the House Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a markup of the bipartisan Pipeline Efficiency and Safety Act of 2023 (H.R. 6494) and other legislation.

At 12 pm, the House Agriculture Committee holds its Member Day, in which members of Congress advocate for earmarks and special programs of interest to their districts (usually businesses within their districts).

Thursday, December 7

At 11 am, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nomination of Kurt Campbell to be Deputy Secretary of State. Campbell, currently Biden’s top White House official for the Indo-Pacific, is the co-founder of the Center for New American Security, a think tank he established in 2007 for departing Obama Administration military and diplomatic officials and financed by defense contractors.

Hearings on the Hill Today:

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