Published May 04, 2013
A recent video from a President Obama-aligned group is under fire from fact-checkers for claiming hundreds of House members voted to call climate change a "hoax" -- namely, because they didn't.
The video from Organizing for Action cleverly splices together quotes from Republican climate change skeptics while building up to the factoid about the vote, which was on an amendment to a broader bill in 2011.
The video then includes the following text: "Number of House members who voted in 2011 that climate change was a 'hoax': 240."
The amendment, though, did not include the word hoax, and the circumstances of the vote were far more complicated than the video portrayed. FactCheck.org and The Washington Post have both called out the claim as inaccurate, with the Post giving it four "Pinocchios," which is the worst score for the truthfulness the paper gives out.
"In this case, the Obama group has twisted the meaning of a relatively minor amendment -- which was clearly intended to become fodder for future campaign ads," the Post wrote.
The amendment in question was introduced by Democrats, in the course of debate over a Republican bill that dealt with regulation, not the science of climate change itself. The Republican bill was aimed at barring the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and other gases and giving that power to Congress.
But, in an effort to pressure Republicans, Democrats offered an amendment that declared climate change to be caused by humans.
The amendment said: "Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate changes is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare."
That amendment failed, on a 184-240 vote -- which is where the 240 number came from in the OFA ad.
But three of those no votes were Democrats. And not all of the Republicans who voted against the amendment are on record saying climate change is a sham. Republicans, rather, complained at the time that the amendment was not pertinent to the underlying bill.
So where does the word "hoax" come from?
There appear to be a couple instances. One, according to the Post, was from a Democrat, Rep. Henry Waxman, who said at the time that the Republican bill's premise was "that climate change is a hoax."
The other was a quote from Republican Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, nestled into the Obama group's video right after the vote factoid. Broun said: "The idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax."
But as FactCheck.org pointed out, that quote was from 2009, two years earlier.
FactCheck.org also said that Broun and other Republicans who completely deny a link to human activity are "off base." But the group noted there is a diversity of opinion among the GOP caucus on the causes and impact of climate change.
The fact-check group concluded: "Organizing for Action would have been correct to say that 237 Republicans opposed an amendment accepting 'the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring' and 'caused largely' by humans. But that's not the same thing as calling climate change a 'hoax.'"