Hill staffers hold climate protest in Schumer’s office

By Nick Sobczyk | 07/25/2022 01:24 PM EDT

Schumer office sit-in.

Progressive congressional staffers sat in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's office in the Hart building on Capitol Hill to demand climate legislation. @saaaauuull/Twitter

Congressional staffers this morning protested in the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to urge him to continue negotiating on a climate change bill.

Several aides posted about the sit-in on Twitter, including Aria Kovalovich, a professional staff member for the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment, and Saul Levin, a policy adviser for Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).

More than a dozen staffers held signs reading “Keep negotiating, Chuck” and “Climate policy now” while they sat peacefully in Schumer’s office around 11 a.m. today. One video showed them singing.

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Six protesters — all House staffers — were arrested after refusing to leave Schumer’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building, according to the U.S. Capitol Police.

It’s an unusual, and perhaps unprecedented, protest by congressional aides, who generally try to stay out of the spotlight. The sit-in follows a letter earlier this month signed anonymously by more than 200 staffers demanding clean energy and climate legislation.

“Right now, we Hill staffers are peacefully protesting Dem leaders INSIDE. To my knowledge, this has never been done,” Levin wrote on Twitter. “We’ve also never seen climate catastrophe, so we’re meeting the moment.”

Climate negotiations between Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) fell apart this month when Manchin said he would not support the clean energy provisions of a party-line spending bill while inflation is at 9.1 percent.

It prompted rage among Democrats who worked for years to develop a politically palatable set of climate policies — namely, a huge suite of clean energy tax credits — that they believed would be deflationary.

Now, Senate Democrats are moving forward on a budget reconciliation bill focused more narrowly on drug pricing and health care. But many in the party, seeing this Congress as the best chance to act in years, want to continue negotiating the climate provisions with Manchin.

Manchin’s views will determine whether that is possible, but the protest aimed to get Schumer to keep trying to get climate change policy passed.

Schumer’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. The majority leader has said he wants to continue pursuing climate legislation, including potentially via a second round of budget reconciliation this fall (E&E Daily, July 20).

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