FULL EPISODE: 10/31/21 Rep. Brendan Boyle and Rep. John Curtis on attending COP26 and fighting climate change

Published: Oct. 30, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), vice chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus, and Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), chairman of the Conservative Climate Caucus, about President Biden’s economic agenda and the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, October 31, 2021. Both congressmen are scheduled to attend COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland next week.

Rep. Boyle told Van Susteren that “it would be disastrous” for Democrats if they were not able to come together to pass President Biden’s economic agenda, but said: “I do believe we are going to have an agreement as it comes to the climate provisions.”

On his upcoming trip to COP26, Boyle said: “We want to make sure that the president is there and is able to say that the United States is stepping up and taking the lead.”

When asked how President Biden might be perceived by other world leaders at the conference given the stalemate in Congress, Boyle answered: “We certainly have a moment here on Capitol Hill ... in which we have hyper-partisanship, and the rest of the world sees that. It’s something that does not help the United States on the global stage.”

On whether climate change is a national security issue, particularly in terms of China’s lack of aggressiveness in combating the issue, Boyle said: “All of us, and certainly within both parties here on Capitol Hill, need to be very clear-eyed about the threat that China presents to us.”

Rep. Curtis, the chairman and founder of the new Conservative Climate Caucus, admitted Republicans “have been slow to come to the table” to talk about climate change, explaining that “extremism turns Republicans off.” However, Curtis says he believes fellow GOP lawmakers “care deeply” about the issue, adding: “We’re engaged and we want to be at the table.”

On why he doesn’t back a carbon tax, Curtis answered: “First of all, just the fact that it’s a tax turns Republicans off … And nobody has really shown me a carbon tax that deals with China and with Russia. And the reality of it is unless we deal with those two countries and others like them, we’re not going to make progress on this issue.”

When asked how he would engage China, Curtis said: “I think the only way is to give them a low-cost alternative. We can sanction them all day long, they’re not going to go there. But the minute that they see a low-cost alternative, I think they would adopt it.”

Boyle and Curtis interview excerpts are below.

Rep. Brendan Boyle Highlights

On getting Democratic moderates and progressives to support President Biden’s economic agenda

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

So in the House, we have about 97% of Democrats on the same page. The problem is we need 99%. And in the Senate, we have 96% on the same page, but we literally need 100% in the Senate because of the 50-50 math. So I think we will get there because everyone knows what the stakes are. I mean, whether you’re the most conservative Democrat or the most liberal Democrat or somewhere in between, we all recognize that it would be disastrous for the American people if we didn’t get this done. And frankly, it would be disastrous for us politically if we failed to pass both bills.

On how to get Democrats to coalesce around climate change provisions in the spending bill

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

This is very timely with the president and a number of us from Congress, myself included, about to go to COP. We want to make sure that the president is there and is able to say that the United States is stepping up and taking the lead. I do believe though, based on recent conversations that I’ve had, I mean, literally just the last few days, that the climate provisions are actually not the most challenging aspects of reaching an overall agreement … and I do believe we are going to have an agreement as it comes to the climate provisions.

On what he expects will be achieved at COP26

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

This is an opportunity for so many nations in the world to come together to build off the success of the Paris Climate Accord. It was at a previous COP conference that the Paris Climate Agreement was reached. But now, frankly, is the more difficult task, and that is taking the next step in terms of what nations will actually do legally and technically, and economically to match those goals.

On how other countries might perceive President Biden at COP26, given continued negotiations on Capitol Hill

Greta Van Susteren

The president would love to have a deal at the conference. He has what’s called a framework. What do you think the response is going to be from other countries when they see that the president of the United States arrives with no sort of fixed deal on this bill, the climate aspect of the bill, but instead comes with this sort of nebulous framework concept?

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

Democracy is messy, and we certainly have a moment here on Capitol Hill ... Really, we have for a couple of decades, in which we have hyper-partisanship, and the rest of the world sees that. It’s something that does not help the United States on the global stage. This is why I think it’s so important that we get both of these bills done as soon as possible so that we can give our president a win, but also so that he can stand up to a President Xi, so he can stand up to a Vladimir Putin and say, “See, democracy does work. American democracy is still functioning. It’s not the chaos and destruction that you saw from January 6th or political chaos in terms of gridlock.” So I feel very committed to getting both of these bills done. We absolutely have to do it, and the sooner we’re able to do it, the better.

On the need for bipartisanship on the spending bill

Greta Van Susteren

All right. If all the Democrats were on board, you could pass this, because you can do it by reconciliation. You can do this climate program. But how important is it in general to have a bipartisan vote on this? How important would it be to get Republicans on board to pass it not just by using all the Democratic votes, but getting Republicans on board?

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

Well, of course, we had that on the infrastructure bill. It is literally called the bipartisan infrastructure bill. It got 69 votes in the Senate, including Mitch McConnell and I think 18 other Senate Republicans. I would like to see at least 10 or so House Republicans vote for the infrastructure bill. They’ve signaled previously they would. Now, apparently, they are backtracking from that. As far as the other bill, the Build Back Better Act, Republicans will have to explain why they don’t want to support universal pre-K in this country for all three-year-olds and four-year-olds. What an enormous difference that would make. They’ll have to explain why they’re against that, or why they’re against raising taxes on those who make at least $10 million a year to help fund some of the climate provisions.

On the price Democrats will pay if they can’t get the bill passed

Greta Van Susteren

I suppose on the flip side, the Democrats, if they don’t get it passed by reconciliation... If you can’t get all the Democrats on board, you’re going to likewise have to explain why President Biden’s agenda can’t get passed.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

Oh, look, Greta. If we don’t get both of these done, first, it’ll be awful for the American people. Those who are counting on us, those who like getting the child tax credit, working families in my district, for whom that check has been an enormous help, those who have been counting on universal pre-K. We will pay a real price with those voters if we don’t get it done, and we’ll have a lot to explain for. But I’m working hard to make sure that we don’t end up in that position, and that instead, next year, we’ll be able to campaign on our historic achievements, and not attempting to come up with excuses on why we weren’t able to get it done.

On whether climate change is a national security issue

Greta Van Susteren

Is climate change a national security issue? If so, how?

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

The DOD, Department of Defense, certainly thinks so. They have issued report after report about the ways in which climate change is a national security issue. Let’s face it... Take Africa, for example. If you have climate change, which we do, and that increases the frequency of droughts, and so populations then decide to move because they’re forced to because of a scarcity of water or food, that can then cause conflict between nations and between peoples. We have already seen a little bit of that already in recent years in Africa. So that’s one example of many throughout human history in which the need for resources and a scarcity of a certain resource because of climate change forces populations to move and then come into conflict with one another.

Greta Van Susteren

Does it become a national security issue for vis-a-vis China, if China is not aggressive in stopping its emissions? Because it’s a huge contributor to this problem.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

There is no question about it, China is a major part of this problem. I’m someone who tends to be, I won’t say a hawk, but I’ve been described that way when it comes to combating the Chinese threat. President Xi is now a dictator for life. I don’t even know why we refer to him as the title of president. Those who decades ago thought that a liberalized economy in China would bring democratic reforms were sadly woefully mistaken. All of us, and certainly within both parties here on Capitol Hill, need to be very clear-eyed about the threat that China presents to us.

On the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

I’m proud to say it actually is bipartisan. One perhaps uncovered aspect of our politics the last several years is even though they’ve obviously been hyper-partisan, there has been a growing number of Republicans, at least in the House, who have been in acknowledging the reality of climate change, and at least signaling that they’re open to doing something about it. They tend to come from coastal areas that are already seeing the impacts of climate change. So I’m proud to say it is bipartisan, and I do think that movement is growing on the conservative side. You also see more kind of the evangelical Christian churches, who tend to lean right, actually make climate change a major priority for them. So I do feel confident, and I’ll say at least optimistic, that we’re seeing more and more support among some conservatives for finally acknowledging the reality of climate change, and doing something about it.

Rep. John Curtis Highlights

On why Republicans have been slow to embrace the issue of climate change

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

Well, I think it’s fair to say that we have been slow to come to the table to talk about it. I do believe it’s true that we care deeply. And I think if you look throughout history, you’ll actually see involvement. For instance, EPA under Richard Nixon. There’s a lot of things that Republicans have spoken on. But we’ve been very quiet on this, I agree with that. And the second part of your question, the reason why is, I think the extremism turns Republicans off, all the extreme ideas. And I think that’s been a huge mistake for us to not be talking about it.

Greta Van Susteren

Okay. And Republicans always bring up the EPA to me and I nod my head for that, but that was 50 years ago, 1970. And so in more recent history, it’s been, at least it appears that the Republican Party has not been so aggressive. But I’m wondering, is it now a high priority for Republicans or a higher priority?

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

Well, let me give you a couple of good examples where I think that it is. I’ll point to and this is a little more recent than EPA, but last year, the Energy Act of 2020 was a good bipartisan effort. Republicans joined in that. We recently launched a conservative caucus, and the first tenant of that is that the climate’s changing and Matt’s had some influence over it. 70 House members, Republicans have joined that caucus. Kevin McCarthy has just launched a select task force for climate. And so I think those are some pretty good indications we’re engaged and we want to be at the table.

On President Biden’s climate framework

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

I think he has pieces of the puzzle, but I think he’s missing some important parts of that that Republicans could actually get behind and support. That’s one of the reasons I think it’s important for us to be at COP, is to make sure that we’re being heard and our ideas are being heard as well.

Greta Van Susteren

What specifically do you like about his proposal and what specifically do you not like about it, and what would you like to see in it?

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

I don’t think we can reach our goals unless we have some serious discussions about nuclear and I don’t think we’re having those conversations. And I don’t think we have to live with our grandparents’ nuclear, but next-generation nuclear. I don’t think we can reach our goals without new technologies like hydrogen. And I don’t think we can reach our goals without dealing with vast amounts of carbon in the air coming from China and Russia. And I really don’t see anything in his plan to deal with that.

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

Now, let me tell you where I think you’re going to see alignment with him and where we’re going to agree with him, and that’s holding Russia and China accountable. To the extent he’s willing to do that, he’ll find Republicans right by his side saying, look, we can’t fix this by ourselves and you’ve got to get these countries to engage.

On a carbon tax

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

First of all, just the fact that it’s a tax turns Republicans off. That won’t surprise you. But it doesn’t really solve the problem. It doesn’t deal with other greenhouse gas emissions. And I’ll just throw out the methane as a really good example and hydrofluorocarbons. And nobody has really shown me a carbon tax that deals with China and with Russia. And the reality of it is unless we deal with those two countries and others like them, we’re not going to make progress on this issue.

Greta Van Susteren

When you go to COP 26, what do you say to other nations who say, look, you want us to have these standards and meet these goals in terms of reducing greenhouse gases, yet the United States for years has enjoyed the industrial projects and you’ve put a lot of emissions into the air, and we’re just now developing them ourselves, and you’ve already alluded the air, and now we want to catch up to basically, compete in the world economy, but we can’t if you put these standards on us?

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

Well, I think that’s why we’re having the wrong conversation with them. It feels to them like we want them to just turn to solar power and wind power tomorrow and pay all the money to do that. And the reality of it is the path to a greener and less worldwide greenhouse gas emissions does not have to break the bank. Let’s start with things ... Let’s take that same path in many ways that the United States has taken with their transition. The single biggest cause of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is a fossil fuel, natural gas, right? And so we can dramatically lift their standard of living. We can dramatically cut their greenhouse gas emissions. But the shocker is we’re going to use fossil fuel to do it.

On China versus the U.S. in terms of greenhouse gases

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

I lived over there several years and speak the language, and I feel to some degree as much as I can, I understand their culture, and the reality of it is I don’t trust them. They’ve said they’ll be carbon neutral by 2060, and I say, I don’t see it. So I think part of the differences in approach is just realistic, like we’re really serious about this. And I think the only answer that I can come up with for dealing with China, really, I think there’s two answers, and one is the U.S. has got to develop the low-cost alternative to coal, and then Russia will adopt that. But I don’t think we’re going to force them by simply saying it’s a better idea. I think it has to be the low-cost alternative. And quite frankly, we already have that with U.S. natural gas. We could reduce their carbon emissions dramatically with U.S. natural gas, and it would be a low-cost leader, but we’ve got to be willing to have that conversation.

Greta Van Susteren

But if we can’t have the conversation, President Xi is not going to go to COP26. He’s going to be there, I think virtually. But we also have a lot of tensions between the United States and China over human rights, over Taiwan, over trade. I mean, how do we even begin to have that conversation, or do you think we should take a more muscular approach with maybe sanctions? I mean, what do you recommend? How do we get China to the table to discuss this?

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

Yeah, I’ll come back to this concept. I think the only way is to give them a low-cost alternative. We can sanction them all day long, they’re not going to go there. But the minute that they see a low-cost alternative, I think they would adopt it.

Greta Van Susteren

Do we have that low-cost alternative, and does that mean low cost that U.S. taxpayers are paying for this or China’s paying for this? I mean, if there’s sort of this silver bullet out there, where is it, and who’s paying for it?

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

So this is I think the beauty of Republican answers. They don’t cost the U.S. taxpayers, as a matter of fact, they fuel the U.S. economy. And I’ll come back to ... You say we have the low-cost alternative? I’m going to give you two. One is short-term and one is long-term. Short-term is U.S. natural gas. It burns about half of the greenhouse gas emissions of the coal that they’re burning. The U.S. natural gas is substantially better than Russian natural gas. And that is a low-cost alternative that we could get them to turn to today. Long term, I think we need to be talking about advancing nuclear and hydrogen. We don’t have the technology and the price isn’t there yet, but I think if we put as much into that as we put into solar and wind, we’d get to the point where it would be a low-cost alternative.

Greta Van Susteren

Well, China is dependent on coal. I think it’s about 80%. Fossil fuel is their energy. And you mentioned the natural gas that would be a low-cost alternative and a cleaner alternative. But if they’re not even talking to us because of human rights, trade, and Taiwan, there’s a huge blockage there.

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

Yeah. I think that’s a fair criticism. And I personally believe China is one of President Biden’s most difficult conundrums that he’s dealing with. But I’ll come back to this concept of the dollar tends to break through all of those problems that you just mentioned, and if China sees there’s money to be made or money to be saved, I think we would break through some of those problems that we’re having with them.

---

About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

About “Full Court Press” and Gray Television:

“Full Court Press” is a Sunday political show broadcast on all Gray Television markets and syndicated in leading cities including New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles covering 80% of the country. Gray Television currently owns and/or operates television stations and leading digital properties in 94 television markets, including the number-one-rated television station in 68 markets and the first or second-highest-rated television station in 87 markets. Gray’s television stations cover approximately 24 percent of US television households and broadcast approximately 400 separate programming streams, including nearly 150 affiliates of the CBS/NBC/ABC/FOX networks. Gray Television also owns video program production, marketing, and digital businesses including Raycom Sports, Tupelo-Raycom, and RTM Studios, the producer of PowerNation programs and content. For further information, please visit www.gray.tv.

Lisa Allen serves as the Executive Producer of “Full Court Press,” and Gray SVP Sandy Breland is the Executive in Charge. Cary Glotzer, CEO of Tupelo-Raycom, is in charge of production.

For media inquiries please contact:

Virginia Coyne

fullcourtpressnews@gmail.com

‪(202) 495-1640‬

Copyright 2021 Full Court Press. All rights reserved.