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Congressional Update: House Appropriations, New Climate Change Committee

Congress remains deadlocked on passing a government funding bill that can pass both chambers and be signed by the President. Currently, one-third of the government has reached a lapse in appropriations which includes the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, Department of State, Treasury Department, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The President has directed the Senate to not take up any single appropriations bill that is sent to them absent inclusion of $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier on the southern border. The House continues to pass stand-alone appropriations bills which are expected to be ignored by the Senate. Absent a compromise on either side, this situation is expected to continue for some time with no clear end in sight.

In other congressional news, the House majority at the start of the 116th Congress has created a House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which will be chaired by Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida. The stated goal of the new select committee is to examine the science behind climate change and make recommendations to other standing committees in the House to prepare legislation to address climate change. The committee will have subpoena power, but is not expected to prepare legislation beyond recommendations.

Republican Rep. Francis Rooney of Florida, a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus, and Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a longtime climate change skeptic, are openly campaigning to be ranking member of the Select Committee. The appointment will be made by House GOP leadership, which now faces a choice between trying to shape Democratic-led climate policy and trying to stop it. Contentious hearings and investigations should be expected out of this body.