I had two thoughts when I saw the final scores from our Clean Water Scorecard for the 116th Congress:
We can’t let this go on anymore -- we need a new President and new leadership in the Senate.
Elections really do matter.
Protecting our water, health, and environment shouldn’t be a partisan issue -- but it has been, in the US Congress. For the fifth time since 2010, support for common sense legislation to safeguard our water, address the climate crisis, fix our democracy, and put people first broke down along party lines. Democrats broadly supported the idea that we should act like drinking water matters and act on climate while Republicans broadly supported the fossil fuel industry and other corporate special interests.
The majority of Democractic lawmakers achieved perfect scores, or were very close. The majority of Republican lawmakers got a zero or scored in the single digits. You can see the scores for yourself here. You can also find factsheets for the states where Clean Water Action has offices here.
How did we get here?
First, money talks. Corporate special interests like the fossil fuel industry pour tens of millions into elections across the country. Then the politicians who benefit from that largesse make sure the agendas of the special interests are prioritized. We’ve reported on the corrosive influence of dark money on our democracy before. Check out the reports here and here.
Secondly, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has transformed the Senate from “the world’s greatest deliberative body” to a confirmation mill for President Trump. The Senate has been more focused on confirming the President’s judicial and other nominees than legislating. Though we scored eighteen votes in the House, we were only able to score five votes in the Senate. Two of those votes were to confirm industry hacks to run the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior. The House has passed hundreds of bills. Mitch McConnell has refused to let the Senate consider most of them.
So what can we do?
We can elect leaders who will put our water, health and environment before corporate profits. Elections matter. Thanks to the 2018 mid-term elections which swept progressive champions into the majority in the House, we’ve seen what happens when lawmakers put people first. The House passed bills to restore our democracy, slow Trump’s Dirty Water Agenda, hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its pollution, and take serious action to fight climate change. We need to replicate this in 2020 -- hold on to the House and vote for new leadership in the Senate. And, make sure that President Trump becomes a one-term President.
This is the most important election of our lifetimes. We must set ourselves on a path to address the climate crisis, fix our failing infrastructure, end environmental racism, put drinking water first, and more. We can’t afford four more years of Trump and we can’t allow Mitch McConnell to set the agenda in the Senate anymore. Please use this scorecard as you make your decisions when you vote this year.
If you need information about voting, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE or visit vote411.org.