WATCH: Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s viral floor speech
Mar 27, 2019, 8:02 AM | Updated: 8:30 am
SALT LAKE CITY — Tauntauns, Aquaman and a machine gun-toting Ronald Reagan: all of these characters made an appearance during Sen. Mike Lee’s speech that quickly went viral Tuesday.
The Senator said he began his speech on the Senate floor with a little fear in his heart as the Senate prepared to vote on the Green New Deal.
This fear, he said, came not because of what the carbon emissions might do to the environment in the near future, or even what the Green New Deal was going to do generally, because, as he said, “After all, this isn’t going to pass. Not today, not any time soon.”
He was right in that regard.
The bill proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and Sen. Edward J. Markley, D-Massachusetts, to drastically cut carbon emissions in the United States failed with a 57-to-0 vote, as every Republican along with four Democrats blocked the resolution, with the remaining 43 Democrats, including the Senators who introduced the bill, voted “present.”
The fear came, the Senator said, because he wasn’t sure if he would be able to make it through the speech without cracking a smile as he delivered his tongue in cheek speech to consider the Green New Deal with the “seriousness it deserves.”
There was plenty to laugh at too, Lee brought with him a group of visual aids that included the superhero Aquaman riding a giant sea horse, Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun, and most notably, one depicting President Ronald Reagan firing a machine gun while riding a velociraptor clutching a tattered American flag.
“The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution that we’re considering this week in the Senate,” Lee said. “But rather, the serious business of human flourishing. The solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married and have some kids.”
The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution, but the serious business of human flourishing – the solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places: fall in love, get married, and have some kids.https://t.co/N2gYdJFldt pic.twitter.com/ekoFlaECSd
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 26, 2019
He wasn’t alone in his criticism of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday as reported by the Washington Post that he believes that climate change is real and is a result of human behavior, but then asked, “The question is how do you address it?”
“This might sound like a neat idea in places like San Francisco or New York,” he said, places he said the Democrats have been focused on lately, but he continued, “[The] communities practically everywhere else would be absolutely crushed.”
Lee’s speech mocking the Green New Deal garnered plenty of criticism and even brought a response from the freshman representative who introduced the legislation, Ocasio-Cortez:
Like many other women + working people, I occasionally suffer from impostor syndrome: those small moments, especially on hard days, where you wonder if the haters are right.
But then they do things like this to clear it right up.
If this guy can be Senator, you can do anything. https://t.co/vU4ChbTnnr
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 26, 2019
W/ the #GreenNewDeal, legislators, experts, & advocates have spent countless hours poring over details of industrial policy+impact of global temp/sea lvl projections.
That’s what you do when you take your job seriously + respect the chamber.
This is what happens when you don’t: https://t.co/mWfWULdd7r
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 26, 2019
Lee’s main, and most serious, argument came near the end of his speech, where he said that climate change is an engineering problem that requires creativity, ingenuity and technological innovation that requires imagination that will come from more humans.
“More people mean bigger markets, for more innovation. More babies will mean forward-looking adults, the sort we need to tackle long term, large scale problems,” Lee said. “American babies, in particular, are likely going to be wealthier, better educated and more conservation minded than children raised in still industrializing countries.”
He ended his arguments by saying that children are a sign of optimism, and that optimism is a prerequisite for meeting the global challenge that climate change poses; the optimism highlighted those whom, he said, were the true heroes that will make a difference in solving climate change.
“The true heroes of the story aren’t the politicians, and they aren’t social media activists, they’re moms and dads, and the little boys and girls that they are at this very moment, putting down for naps are helping with their homework, building treehouses, and teaching them how to tie their shoes.
“The planet does not need for us to think globally and act locally, so much as needs us to think family and act personally.
“The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution that we’re considering this week in the Senate, but rather the serious business of human flourishing,” Lee said.
You can watch the full speech above.