House Democrats will amplify calls to combat climate change this year through an increased House floor and media presence, a group of them announced Thursday.
The lawmakers, all of whom are part of the Safe Climate Caucus, noted that advancing legislation through the GOP-controlled House isn't likely at the moment. And they noted that getting Republican leadership to hold hearings on climate science and other matters amounted to dead ends.
But Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who leads the group, argued that persistence could change the perspectives of some of his Republican colleagues.
"I've been very careful in saying very precisely that Congress is not going to act at the present time. But the present time can be changed, even with some of the present members when the public pressure grows," Waxman, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, told reporters in the Capitol.
To increase their visibility, Safe Climate Caucus members will write a weekly climate change opinion piece in the Huffington Post when the House is in session. They also will speak more often on the floor and take their message to YouTube.
"We've been stopped from any action in the House of Representatives to deal with this serious threat," said Waxman, who is retiring this year. "We are going to move, however, to a new strategy in expressing how to draw attention to the climate change issue."
The effort underscores the Democrats' belief that climate change is a winning issue for them, especially in the 2014 midterm elections. The House initiative comes in the wake of a revved-up effort in the Senate led by Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Waxman also said that one of the group's goals is to provide support for some of the environmental regulations coming from the White House — including greenhouse gas emissions rules for new and existing power plants — that have faced stiff opposition from Republicans, centrist Democrats and industry.
"The president is going to make decisions that don't require approval by Congress, but we're going to have to stand here in the Congress and back him up," he said.