Rooney snags caucus co-chairmanship

January 14, 2019

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney will serve as Republican co-chair of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, replacing former delegation mate Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who helped found the group with another Floridian, Rep. Ted Deutch.

"It's important we show that at least some Republicans do feel the climate is changing, recognize we are at risk of sea level rise, and are willing to work with whoever it takes to deal with it," Rooney said in a Washington Examiner interview. "We used to own environment issues, and now we have traded places with Democrats on that. As a Republican, I would like to see us adapt to the future and broaden our base as opposed to becoming extinct."

Rooney has also expressed interest in serving as the ranking minority member of the newly formed Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. "It might be interpreted as a less than positive thing if someone who is made ranking member doesn't really care about climate change," he said. In stepping into the leadership role for the climate caucus, he had support from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, another Republican who has emerged to fill the climate gap left by Curbelo's departure.

In the 115th Congress, the bipartisan climate caucus was criticized as serving to "green wash" lawmakers without a strong environmental or climate change record. Rooney has suggested a different approach for membership in the next iteration. "If you want to be on the caucus, you should at least pick one or two pro-environmental things you would vote for," Rooney said. "Put your money where you mouth is."