(WASHINGTON) — Senate Democrats kept their promise to stay up all night as they powered through a sleepless night into Tuesday morning to talk about climate change.
The all-night session marked the 36th in Senate history, according to the Senate historian’s office.
Thirty senators were slated to speak into Tuesday morning, with younger members such as Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, taking the shifts in the dead of the night.
In one of the more theatrical moments of the overnight session, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., borrowed a page out of the late-night playbook of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, by reading a passage from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
“Recently, the books of Massachusetts author and national treasure Dr. Seuss have been popular and read on the Senate floor. I wish I had the time to read the entirety of his environmental classic The Lorax,” Markey said late Monday night. “But since there are so many senators who want to talk about the impacts of climate change and the benefits addressing it will bring our country, I will just have to close with this short portion.”
“‘But now says the Once-ler, now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not,’” Markey read. “So to my colleagues here in the Senate and everyone watching and following tonight, thank you for caring a whole awful lot.”
Senate Republicans viewed the all-night session as a political stunt, which Democrats denied.
“It’s probably necessary to have something that’s all night, because you keep saying and I hear it over and over, ‘Climate change is real, it’s real, it’s real,’” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said. “Maybe if you keep saying it’s real, people will believe it.”
“Kind of interesting that this is happening during the cold spell that hasn’t been much fun in Oklahoma,” Inhofe added.
Schatz, the Democrat from Hawaii, said in response, “Pointing out a window on a cold day and laughing about climate change is one of the most profoundly unserious things that otherwise good and responsible leaders in this chamber do.”
The Democrats didn’t promote a specific piece of legislation in their overnight session, but it was intended to serve as a rallying cry for the party on the issue of climate change.
The marathon session also will send a message to big Democratic donors, like California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million in the midterm elections to support candidates who support climate change legislation.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our generation,” Steyer said in a statement that praised Senate Democrats’ efforts overnight.
But Senate Democrats who are in tough re-election races, like Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, notably did not participate in the overnight effort.
Democrats were united in calling out Republicans who deny the effects of climate change.
“Climate Change is real. It’s here,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor Monday night. “It’s time to stop acting like those who ignore this crisis. For example, the oil baron Koch brothers and their allies in Congress have a valid point of view. They don’t.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “Climate change deniers need to wake up and realize that the scientific diagnosis about warming the planet is real. We need to take action.”
Prior to the start of the all-night talk-a-thon, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., tweeted a photo of the senators’ preparing for the overnight session.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., joked about how the senators would power through the night.
“We have espresso coffee on tap,” he said.
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