Climate Debate in Congress

Nearly 230 bills focusing specifically on climate change have been introduced in the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Many more bills touched on energy, environment, transportation, agriculture and other areas that could have an impact on or be affected by climate change. The list below, however, contains for the most part only those bills whose authors explicitly reference climate change or related terms, such as greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide. (For brevity, all legislative proposals, including resolutions and amendments, are referred to here as "bills.")

While little climate-related legislation passed, this Congress introduced twice as many climate-related bills than in the previous Congress. A closer look reveals:

  • 229 climate-specific bills were introduced, surpassing the 113 introduced during the 112th Congress (2011-2012), and coming close to the 235 of the 110th Congress (2008-2009).
  • 141 of the bills (62 percent) support climate action in some way.
  • 48 bills are intended to build resilience to climate impacts, compared with nine introduced in the previous Congress.
  • 25 bills supporting climate action have bipartisan co-sponsorship. Nine of them promote energy efficiency.
  • 57 bills, 11 of them bipartisan, would block or hinder EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Four such bills passed the House, but none passed the Senate.
  • 16 bills supporting climate action were written by Republicans, while nine bills opposing climate action were written by Democrats, showing that while there are exceptions, climate issues continue to largely fall along partisan lines.
  • 16 bills would block or hinder federal agencies from using the social cost of carbon in federal rulemaking.
  • 3 bills seek to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

Congress voted on 45 of these bills, most of which passed the House of Representatives and would curb EPA’s greenhouse gas regulatory authority. Only three bills loosely related to climate change (though not directly referencing it) were passed and signed into law: the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act and the Hurricane Sandy Relief bills to cope with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath; and Public Law 113-89, which reverses many of the provisions of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, and was enacted into law despite being opposed by climate action and taxpayer advocates.

The bills, resolutions, and amendments of the 113th Congress dealing with climate change are divided into the following categories: