Most Senate Democrats Sold Us Out on Confirmation Vote for Climate Denier Chris Abruzzo

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This was a weird defense of traditiony deference to the Executive from Keegan Gibson, in reference to the obnoxiously bipartisan Chris Abruzzo confirmation vote:

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Chris Abruzzo’s position that climate change isn’t a big deal, and that Pennsylvania (one of the top coal-burning states) shouldn’t try to do anything┬ámore to reduce greenhouse gas pollution is a partisan position. The Democratic Party does not agree with that position.

My argument is that if the Senate confirmation vote is just a formality, then why have the vote? Why not let Tom Corbett appoint whichever hacks and charlatans he wants? So much the worse for him, and for us for electing him.

But if the confirmation vote does mean something, then Democrats shouldn’t leave their fingerprints on any majority party nominees with excessively radical views on key issues the parties disagree about – in this case, whether or not the new Department of Environmental Protection head should have to believe in Earth’s top environmental problem.

There’s no better way to signal the parties’ disagreement about this issue to the voters than with a symbolic party-line vote against Abruzzo.

The out-of-power Democratic Party is basically a messaging and advocacy outfit with a limited number of tools to impact public opinion on key events in Republican governance. One of those tools is party-line votes. Unified minority party opposition signals to voters that the majority party is doing something radical and unpopular.

The “polarized Washington” comparison that Senate Democrats like Rob Teplitz and John Yudichak have been floating doesn’t make any sense. The Republican Party in Washington has done a great job of using party-line votes to make President Obama look partisan. What’s specifically objectionable to liberals about the Senate Republicans’ behavior is the unprecedented requirement of a 60-vote supermajority for all the President’s nominees. The supermajority requirement accounts for 100% of the Washington dysfunction around nominations.

The Abruzzo situation was nothing like that. There’s no filibuster in Harrisburg. Democrats have a narrow minority in the Senate. Republicans would have had to cast a 27-24 vote for Abruzzo, he still would’ve been appointed, but newspaper readers would have seen the close margin and intuited that the appointment was controversial. Democratic communications would have reinforced the controversy, and the contrast between the parties would have been magnified.

Instead, the large bipartisan vote for a climate denier makes it look like he is broadly acceptable to both parties. That’s political malpractice for a party that supposedly wants to retake the state Senate next year.


This entry was posted in Environment.

4 Responses to Most Senate Democrats Sold Us Out on Confirmation Vote for Climate Denier Chris Abruzzo

  1. Pingback: 12/11 Morning Buzz | PoliticsPA

  2. Pam says:

    It’s not just the climate answer that bothers me – he has absolutely no environmental background. He worked as a prosecutor in the AG office under Corbett and then was on his executive staff. No environmental experience whatsoever. For that reason alone, his nomination should have received NO votes from all the Dems – instead only 8 voted against. How else can a message be sent that a nominee isn’t qualified unless it’s with their votes? This nonsense that they don’t want to be partisan is ridiculous.

  3. Tim Kelly says:

    From where I sit, there appears to be general lack of understanding on the part of all concerned of the seriousness of the situation we are in, for it’s not just climate change that threatens our civilization, but ocean acidification. Both have direct connections to the food supply. I cannot fathom what the Democratic leadership is thinking right now, but I can tell you that it is long past time for someone like Dr. Richard Alley to be invited to address the Senate and House to educate them as to the science.

  4. Pingback: The 8 PA Senate Democrats Who Voted Against Climate Denier Chris Abruzzo for DEP - Keystone Politics