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Schumer and His Shadow – WSJ


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 26.



Photo:

saul loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Chuck Schumer has finally achieved his long-time dream of becoming Senate Majority Leader. Pity, then, that he is acting as if he lives in mortal political fear of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

On Monday

Mr. Schumer

called for President

Biden

to declare a national climate emergency, which would give the new Administration sweeping authority to circumvent Congress. This echoes

Donald Trump’s

declaration of a phony immigration emergency in 2019 to divert money from other federal accounts to build his wall on the Southern border.

“Now, Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which wasn’t an emergency,” Mr. Schumer said on MSNBC. “But if there ever was an emergency, climate is one. So I would suggest that they explore looking at climate as an emergency, which would give them more flexibility.”

By “flexibility,” Mr. Schumer means unilateral power to redirect federal funds for climate projects and subsidies, block oil exports, suspend drilling projects and perhaps stop the transport of all fossil fuels. All of this would be illegal in our view without explicit Congressional approval, and would be challenged in court, but the “emergency” strategy has been emerging on the left for some time.

We warned Republicans that Democrats would cite Mr. Trump’s use of emergency powers as a precedent for their policies. And now here we are.

Most important for Mr. Schumer’s future,

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez

endorsed a climate emergency with

Bernie Sanders

in 2019 to much political fanfare. The New York Congresswoman has continued to flog the idea on

Twitter

and other media. These days Mr. Schumer seems to adopt every position that AOC does.

Last year she insisted that Senate Democrats keep open the option of killing the legislative filibuster and changing the make-up of the federal courts. Mr. Schumer said everything was on the table if Democrats won the Senate. Now that Democrats are in control, he has refused to disavow dumping the filibuster in talks on sharing power with Republicans in the 50-50 Senate.

Mr. Schumer is watching his political shadow because he’s up for re-election in 2022, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez could run against him in a New York Democratic primary. She’d have no trouble raising tens of millions of dollars nationwide to run a credible campaign. And she’d have a chance to win if Democrats fail to meet progressive expectations now that they control all of Congress and the White House.

This explains Mr. Schumer’s many moves to the left, including a threat to jam Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid spending bill through the Senate on a party-line vote that would stretch the rules of budget reconciliation.

As for climate, AOC seems pleased for now with Mr. Biden’s Wednesday executive orders that bar fossil fuel production on federal land and offshore and are designed to phase out fossil fuels via punitive regulation. But watch out if Mr. Biden’s legislative climate proposals and spending get bogged down in the Senate. The “climate emergency” talk is likely to return, once Mr. Schumer consults with the shadow Majority Leader.

Main Street: AOC’s support of the Goya boycott speaks to the priorities of the modern progressive. Images: Zuma Press/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the January 28, 2021, print edition.



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