As negotiations unfold in Congress seeking a bipartisan deal, the White House’s ability to place a climate focus in Biden’s vast infrastructure package becomes daunting – so much so that the Main Democrats are warning the administration to stop negotiating with Republicans, calling it a waste of time that will not produce any viable compromise.
“From my perspective, no climate, no deal,” said Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass. “I will not just vote against an infrastructure package without climate action – I will fight against. Against
The debate is similar to the political and political differences that complicate Biden’s broader discussions of his ambitious infrastructure program, with America’s sweeping $ 1.7 trillion jobs plan making its way to Congress, as Democrats and Republicans are arguing over what exactly constitutes infrastructure and how much is needed.
The White House firmly upholds Biden’s original ideas, which total nearly $ 1 trillion in climate-related investments that aim to strengthen the electric vehicle market, make buildings and properties more resistant to harsh weather conditions, and to push the country’s electricity grid to become carbon. free by 2035.
The president is seeking a new definition of infrastructure, trying not only to repair the country’s roads and highways, but also to rebuild its economy with new types of investments for the 21st century. Republicans prefer a more traditional approach that modestly touches on some climate-related elements but focuses more specifically on transportation and other typical developments.
As Biden courted a new bipartisan group of 10 senators, who contemplate a scaled-down proposal, leading Democrats fear their party will lose an opportunity with control of the House, Senate and White House to make gains on its priorities on climate change.
“The President has stressed that climate change is one of the defining crises we face as a nation,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said on Friday, “and he and his team got together. continually striving to lead the clean energy economy and energy jobs – which is critical to our economic growth, competitiveness and middle class. ”
Speaking at a climate forum on Friday, former Vice President Al Gore, who spoke with Biden last month, said: “I know he is determined to resolve this issue. good because he knows and has stated that inaction just isn’t an option. ”
For all divisions, there may be common ground between the White House and Republicans, especially with GOP senators now engaged in bipartisan talks.
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, one of the GOP’s main negotiators, said he touched on provisions on flood resilience and energy that would benefit his state during a call with Biden on Tuesday. He was also seen engaged in a long and somewhat heated conversation with Biden on the tarmac last month when the president visited Louisiana.
Hailing from a coastal state familiar with the dangers of inclement weather, Cassidy supports a bipartisan bill to provide tax breaks to landowners that protect homes and businesses from natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods and drought, and another to support projects that “capture” and store carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired power stations and other fossil fuels. Louisiana has several sites vying to become a national hub for carbon capture.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has been largely silent on the bipartisan effort, and other GOP leaders are cold to this latest negotiation, doubtful their five Republican colleagues will find a compromise.
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, No. 3 among Republican leaders, told reporters, “The things you have to do to get Democratic votes, that would be difficult to get Republicans.
With Congress tightly divided and the Senate equally divided, 50-50, Biden would need the support of at least 10 Republicans to meet the 60-vote threshold required to break an opposition obstruction. The president encourages Democrats to also launch a parallel path by using budget reconciliation rules that would allow passage with 51 votes, achievable because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a decisive vote.
Still, the White House and Republicans remain distant on key details, including the overall reach of the package and how to pay for it.
Biden wants to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, which Republicans oppose like a red line they won’t cross.
Instead, the emerging bipartisan 10 senators’ proposal is expected to include an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which consumers pay at the pump, tying it to inflation. Biden rejects this approach because he refuses to raise taxes for anyone earning less than $ 400,000 a year. The group can also tap into unspent COVID-19 relief funds and sue unpaid income taxes.
Jamal Raad, executive director of Evergreen Action, an environmental group, said after months of negotiations that “it is clear that there will never be 10 GOP caucus votes” for major investments like those proposed by the White House.
In the House, Congressional Progressive Caucus representative Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Tweeted: “An infrastructure bill that does not prioritize the climate crisis will not pass the House. . “
And Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, DI, one of the leading climate hawks, said he was “nervous” that Democrats might not be serious about climate change in the infrastructure bill. “We’re running out of time.”
Biden administration officials say they understand the concerns. White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said she and other officials “were going to fight like crazy” to ensure that provisions, including a clean electricity standard, were included in the final bill.
The standard calls for making the country’s electricity sector carbon-free by 2035, a key aspect of Biden’s goal of halving the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said he and others were concerned about the protracted efforts to win GOP votes they see as unlikely to succeed.
From his home in California, he said he sees the threat of wildfires and droughts fueled by climate change on a daily basis. “We are in a difficult time and we do not always have a leadership that reflects this,” he said.