With Republicans holding a slim majority in the House, Democrats’ energy and climate policies could come under intense scrutiny – even as obstacles remain to advancing major Republican goals in that space.
In recent comments to Punchbowl News about funding for the war in Ukraine, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20), previewed what GOP control might look like. While McCarthy didn’t walk away from continued support for the war in Ukraine, he suggested increased oversight on Congressional spending would be a reality – meaning a potential headache for the Biden administration in the Republican-controlled 118th Congress.
Although President Biden could veto any Republican-sponsored bills that threaten his agenda, tough oversight from the Republican majority could also target implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, with its billions in energy and climate spending. A Republican-led House could also ratchet up scrutiny of federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency at a time when the Biden administration is seeking to complete a suite of regulations to fulfill its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
As Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) told The Washington Post, “I’m not doing anything to raise the cost of living for American families … [I want to address climate change, but] you can’t do it where you’re killing jobs.”
It’s a message supported by polling that shows Republican voters are more concerned with jobs than the environment: just 10% of Republican and Republican-leaning independents are deeply concerned with addressing climate change, while a majority thought President Biden’s ambitious plans to curb climate change would hurt the economy.
It’s also a message that had an impact on the campaign trail. Rep.-elect Lori Chavez DeRemer (R-OR-05) voiced concerns in her successful campaign in Oregon; she warned in a Facebook interview that Democrats are trying to “push everything through the lens of climate change” without considering the impacts on businesses.
This push on the part of many Republicans to deemphasize “climate” from talks of energy has fueled speculation about the fate of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Long thought to be the first casualty of a new GOP majority, according to reporting by The Washington Post, some Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA-06), who could become chair of the committee, have privately urged McCarthy to keep the panel.
If the panel does exist in the new Congress, it would likely look dramatically different and focus, in part, on boosting America’s oil and gas production – a critical priority of McCarthy’s “Commitment to America” agenda. Specifically, McCarthy wants to increase domestic fossil fuel production and boost exports of US liquefied natural gas. In fact, the pace of natural gas infrastructure approvals by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has already come under fire from Republican lawmakers. That barrage could intensify if Rep. Kathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) takes the helm of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, a panel with a long history of hounding the opposing administration.
Key Issues In The 118th Congress
 “McCarthy on debt limit, immigration and Ukraine,” Punchbowl News, October 18, 2022, available at https://punchbowl.news/archive/101822-punchbowl-news-am/.
 Lisa Friedman & Coral Davenport, “Amid Extreme Weather, a Shift Among Republicans on Climate Change,” New York Times, August 13, 2021, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/climate/republicans-climate-change.html.
 Alec Tyson, Brian Kennedy & Cary Funk, “Gen Z, Millennials Stand Out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement With Issue,” Pew Research Center, May 26, 2021, available at https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2021/05/26/gen-z-millennials-stand-out-for-climate-change-activism-social-media-engagement-with-issue/.
 Maxine Joselow & Vanessa Montalbano, “Kevin McCarthy weighs future of special committee on climate change,” Washington Post, October 18, 2022, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/18/kevin-mccarthy-weighs-future-special-committee-climate-change/.