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Democrats call for carving out the $550 billion climate package from Biden's Build Back Better Act

Image of then Presidential candidate Joe Biden addressing a crowd in Iowa.
Image Credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Moderate Democratic members of the House of Representatives, who're finding their seats at risk in competitive districts, are calling on the White House and President Joe Biden to break the $550 billion climate package out of the Build Back Better Act.

President Biden wanted the legislation to be the centerpiece of his policy initiatives, with a combination of new spending on climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives, new childcare services, healthcare benefits, and other components of a new social safety net.

The huge $2 trillion spending package was too much for conservative Democrats in the Senate -- chiefly Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona -- and the legislation died without coming to a vote. No Republican Senators were willing to cross the aisle to support the spending package.

Democrats in Congress have been trying to revise the bill ever since. With mid-term Congressional elections looming, many in the party are now calling on President Biden to bring the climate pieces of the legislation to the floor without the other spending measures, as The Washington Post reported yesterday.

“In the two months since the House passed [BBB], mid-December tornadoes killed at least 78 people in Kentucky and late December wildfires destroyed 1,000 homes in Colorado,” Democratic Representatives wrote in their open letter to the President. “The time for [Biden] to work with the Senate to finalize and pass the strongest and most comprehensive version of the [BBB] that can get 50 Senate votes is right now. We must seize this moment for all Americans and enact these vitally important climate investments into law in the coming weeks.”

If the Democratic Congress is to do anything it needs to do it soon. The retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer sets the stage for a lengthy confirmation battle for a new Supreme Court seat and another initiative is heading to the floor of the House that could eat away at the chances of the climate provisions passing.

There's not much time to waste. If the U.S. is to meet the goals it set forward as part of the latest round of global negotiations on climate change mitigation and adaptation, it's going to need to push through the spending package that's currently stalled.

“We don’t have another 10 years to wait,” Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey told The New York Times earlier this month. “We should take what Joe Manchin said, take the climate and clean-energy provisions in the package that have been largely worked through and financed, and take any other provisions in any other part of Build Back Better that have the votes, and put them together as a package.”


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