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House Oversight Committee to Begin Key Hearings on Climate Change – John Kerry to testify

Kerry and Hagel to Testify on Tuesday

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 4, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the Committee will begin its efforts this Congress to examine the fight against global climate change with two key hearings next week.

The Committee will start with a hearing on the morning of April 9, 2019, to examine efforts to combat climate change and protect national security.  The witnesses will be former Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, who also served as the Secretaries of State and Defense, respectively.  They led 58 prominent national security officials in sending a letter to President Trump on March 5, 2019, writing:

[W]e are deeply concerned by reports that National Security Council officials are considering forming a committee to dispute and undermine military and intelligence judgments on the threat posed by climate change. … We urge you to trust and heed the analysis of your own national security agencies and the science agencies on which their assessments depend, including the 21 senior defense officials that have identified climate change as a security threat during your Administration.  A committee designed to undermine the many years of work they have done will weaken our ability to respond to real threats, putting American lives at risk.”

In the afternoon, the Subcommittee on Environment, led by Chairman Harley Rouda, will continue these efforts with the first of several hearings this Congress.  Tuesday’s hearing will examine the scientific consensus on climate change established in the 1980s, the role of the fossil fuel industry in spreading misinformation, and the consequences of policy inaction.  The witnesses will be former Senator Tim Wirth, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, an economist, and Professor Michael Oppenheimer, a geoscientist.

These hearings follow multiple other hearings the Committee has already held this year on key issues of concern to the American people, including skyrocketing drug  prices, the opioid crisis, reforms to voting rights and Executive Branch ethicsreconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and protecting consumers from carcinogens and other chemicals that cause decreased fertility, birth defects, liver disease, and cancer.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time” under House Rule X.  In addition, House Rule X, clause 3(i) specifically charges the Committee with conducting oversight of “the operation of Government activities at all levels, including the Executive Office of the President.”

Since being voted into power in November, House Democrats have injected new energy and engagement into the battle against climate change, with hearings across multiple committees of jurisdiction, the establishment of a new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and the introduction of H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act of 2019.


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