House Republicans said that climate change is real and not a hoax on Wednesday.
As part of legislation the House passed authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, the Senate attached an amendment declaring that climate change exists. The amendment passed easily, with 241 Republicans supporting it.
Democrats were quick to gloat, calling the vote a major step forward for the GOP, a party that has been reluctant to accept the scientific consensus that global warming is real and caused by human activity.
But House Republicans were hardly wringing their hands over the amendment. And several high-profile members of the GOP told National Journal that the vote didn't mean much.
"I just think it's silly," Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois said when asked if the amendment forced a difficult vote. "Democrats wanted to have us vote on this, but I seriously doubt that any Republicans would feel like they're put in a tough spot by this."
Republicans downplayed the significance of the climate vote, in part, because the amendment is silent on the causes of climate change, making it easy for conservatives to vote "yes" without courting controversy.
There is now near-unanimous consent among members of the GOP that the climate is changing. What Republicans do not agree on is whether human activity has caused that change and what, if anything, should be done to address a warming planet.