SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee made waves on the Senate floor Tuesday with a tongue-in-cheek speech that mocked the Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution to address climate change proposed by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass, that was later shot down 57-0.
The Utah Republican closed his speech — which was accompanied by posters featuring Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor, tauntauns from “Star Wars,” Aquaman, and cartoon characters riding sea horses — by arguing that the solution to climate change is having more children.
“The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution,” he said, brandishing the text of the Green New Deal, “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.”
While Lee framed his speech as a joke — "I rise today to consider the Green New Deal with the level of seriousness it deserves," he said — his belief that having more children would help solve climate change appeared to be stated in earnest. And while he also claimed the legislation would ban air travel and eliminate cows, his emphasis on having children was what really caught people's attention.
As clips of Lee’s speech circulated online, the senator quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, receiving praise from some and scorn from others. He defended his speech in a Wednesday morning appearance on the TV show "Fox and Friends."
“I gave the speech because I believe more human beings are the answer to our problems,” Lee said on the show. “We need more human beings, not fewer. The authors of the Green New Deal proposal are trying to suggest people should not have babies and I think that’s atrocious.”
The text of the resolution does not address population growth or suggest limiting the number of children people can have.
Lee added, “The fact is we’ve made tremendous strides” in environmental science and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and “those strides have been brought about through human beings, through American ingenuity and innovation. That’s what we need more of, rather than less of, and shame on them for suggesting that we need fewer humans on this planet.”
Ocasio-Cortez denounced Lee’s speech in a Tuesday tweet that was liked 35,000 times and retweeted 148,000 times:
Later in the day, she shared a clip of Lee’s speech, comparing the seriousness with which people researched and put together the policies outlined in the Green New Deal to Lee's presentation:
For his part, Donald Trump Jr., shared a Daily Caller article about Lee’s speech and added the caption “Not all heroes wear capes!!!”
Rebecca Leber, a climate and environment reporter for Mother Jones, tweeted: “Repeat after me: Republicans have no climate plan.”
A student at Brigham Young University mocked Lee’s argument that having more children is the solution to climate change with this tweet:
The Washington Post tweeted an article headlined “Sen Mike Lee says we can solve climate change with more babies. Science says otherwise.”
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro retweeted Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism of Lee’s speech and added the caption: “I would love to see Mike Lee debate AOC. It wouldn’t last 30 seconds. He’d crush her.”
Jonathan Chait, a writer for New York Magazine, tweeted, "Mike Lee's speech against the Green New Deal is a good reminder that being one of the brighest Republican senators doesn't make you actually bright."
Following his appearance on "Fox and Friends" Wednesday morning, Lee reiterated his commitment to growing families. He tweeted a link to an interview about a paid parental leave bill he is proposing and added, “Not only is it important that Americans be able to afford to start and expand families, but having the time to nurture new life is likely to produce healthier, better-adjusted children down the road.”
Meanwhile, a speech that Ocasio-Cortez gave in response to the failure of the Green New Deal to pass the Senate went viral. Watch her speech below: