During an exchange in Congress on Thursday, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly asked USAID official Gloria Steele about any possible link between the devastating flooding in Bangladesh and climate change.
But when Connolly asked the question, Steele, a career official in charge of administering US aid to Asia, froze. Watch the clip:
The issue of climate change can be risky for career officials to discuss. While many bureaucrats accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real, they are also aware that Trump has called it a "hoax."
Steele is currently serving as the "acting" assistant administrator for Asia, and she's especially vulnerable to being replaced at any time. So instead of a verbal response, she smiles, flicks her nose and just gazes back at Connolly.
Maybe Steele just didn't feel like commenting. But last summer, under the Obama administration, she wasn't feeling quite so taciturn. Her testimony before Congress repeatedly warned about the impact "climate change" was having on Pacific island countries. "While typhoons and cyclones have long plagued the region, changes in climate have made them more frequent and intense," she told a House subcommittee. You can read the testimony here.
John Hudson is a foreign affairs reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact John Hudson at email@example.com.
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