Over 40 people sat in the office of Congressman James Langevin Thursday afternoon after being refused a meeting to discuss a House Select Committee on a Green New Deal. This comes just days after 1000 young people with Sunrise Movement traveled to D.C. asking Democratic leaders to support the resolution that is currently the only one of its kind. The draft proposal was put forth by Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest person to be elected to Congress.
Upon release, Sunrise Movement immediately started organizing around the Green New Deal – the only plan that is in line with the science recently put forth in the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report that says catastrophic impacts of climate change could occur as early as 2040. For these youth, there is no choice but to continue this fight that they say is a fight for their lives.
On November 13th, 250 protesters sat in the D.C. office of the likely next Speaker of the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California) to demand her backing of a Green New Deal. Dozens were arrested. The next week congressional Democrats received office visits from thousands of young people as a national day of action, including Rhode Island Representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin. At that time, only 11 Representatives had endorsed the draft proposal – a number that since Monday’s D.C. action has grown to 37 and includes Rhode Island’s 1st District Representative David Cicilline.
Yesterday’s visit was unscheduled, although Representative Langevin’s staff has met with members of Sunrise Rhode Island.
“Following the national day of action, Ella Kotner and I met with Rep. Langevin’s Chief of Staff, Seth Klaiman,” said Nicole DiPaolo. “At that time, he said it would be rash for the Congressman to endorse legislation that did not exist. I explained that it was a proposal that would require a critical mass of support if it was going to make it to the rules package that would likely be crafted before the holiday and voted on shortly after the new year when the session will begin. We visited his D.C. office on Monday where his staffer was greeted us eagerly with gratitude. That was not the response I got on Tuesday when I called and was refused a meeting here in Rhode Island. The phone was handed off to Klaiman who told me again that the legislation did not exist and that it would be irresponsible to sign on.”
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In the livestream you can hear Langevin’s environmental staffer Justyn Charon firmly express that Representative Langevin would not budge on this issue. It did not stop the group from each introducing themselves and what they were fighting for, followed by three lengthier stories from individuals personally impacted by the climate crisis, ranging from missing three weeks of school growing up in Florida, to losing hope in the political system, to waking up unable to see due to fires from droughts in Singapore and then California. Many of the protesters were students from Brown University who took the time during finals week to not only travel to D.C. but also, for the second time, show up in Representative Langevin’s office to express that his words are empty if he claims to stand with their generation but refuses back the Green New Deal.
[From a press release]
[Photos courtesy of Sunrise RI; Jack Brook, Emily Bouton and Nicole DiPaolo]
[Note: This article originally incorrectly identified Langevin’s Chief of Staff. It has been corrected.]