The 2018 midterm election dramatically shrank the small group of House Republicans who have painted themselves as moderates on climate change.
At most, only about two dozen Republicans in the next House of Representatives will have expressed any interest in taking federal action to stop climate change. (Votes are still being tallied in several close races as of this writing.) At least 18 districts formerly controlled by climate-concerned Republicans will be held by Democrats.
Many of the most vocal advocates of climate action in the GOP were defeated on Tuesday. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate who represents the Florida Keys and who introduced a symbolic carbon-tax bill earlier this year, lost a close election to a Democrat, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
The members who remain more closely resemble Matt Gaetz, who triumphed by almost 35 points Tuesday in his Florida Panhandle district. While Gaetz has affirmed that climate change is real, one of his first actions as a congressman was to introduce a symbolic bill to “terminate the EPA.”
Many of the ousted members were part of the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members who explore “our changing climate” but commit to no specific policy to address it. The caucus was co-founded by Curbelo and Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents another South Florida district. The caucus required one Democrat and one Republican to join at the same time, so that it maintained partisan parity; within the last few months, its membership swelled to include 44 voting Democrats and 43 voting Republicans. Next year, at least 19 of those Republicans will be out of Congress, either because they are retiring or because they lost on Tuesday.