Dems Fret Over Getting Socialist Climate Monstrosity Passed Before COP26
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island says he has been weighing whether to show his face at the U.N. climate talks that kick off Sunday in Scotland.
He wants to make the trip, “unless it’s too humiliating to go (because) we’ve completely disgraced ourselves in Congress”.
Congressional Democrats’ stalled push to enact key parts of U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate agenda has Democratic lawmakers concerned that they are undermining Biden’s message in Glasgow even before he arrives.
U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, who met with Biden recently, said lawmakers could not send the president to the gathering without a robust climate plan in hand.
“The Europeans are going to have a plan … and the Chinese are going to have a plan,” said Khanna, a Democrat from California. “We need to have … a strong plan to give the president the leadership, the opportunity that he deserves.”
Biden had hoped for a warm welcome at the U.N. climate talks, known as COP26, having promised to make climate action a cornerstone of his administration after Donald Trump dismissed the need for action on climate change.
But he has struggled to get key legislation through Congress – particularly his infrastructure bill and broader social spending legislation.
Now Democratic leaders are eyeing the president’s overseas trip as an informal deadline to iron out a deal.
Biden is slated to leave Thursday for Italy, before heading to the UK next week.
Democrats want to ensure that major climate provisions like clean energy tax incentives are included as part of a tandem infrastructure and social spending packages they have been working on since at least the summer.
But U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has expressed opposition to a centerpiece of Biden’s climate agenda: a $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) to incentivize utility companies to transition to renewable energy.
In a chamber split 50-50 between the two parties, just one Democrat can effectively block action if Republicans remain unified in opposition.
Despite the focus on the COP26 deadline, Whitehouse said muscling through legislation that is inadequate to address the task at hand is arguably worse than doing nothing.
“The best solution is something good and strong before COP – second-best is something good and strong after COP,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“(Worse) is something crappy to take into COP and try to sell. And (the) worst-case scenario is just the wheels are off and there’s nothing that’s going to get done.”
House Democrats are eyeing a vote as soon as this week on a $1 trillion-plus infrastructure package the U.S. Senate passed in August that includes some climate provisions, like $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations.
U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, an Illinois Democrat and former clean energy company executive, said there is “massive urgency” for action ahead of COP26.
But more liberal House members have said they cannot support the infrastructure bill without a clear agreement on a separate package that would also include money for priorities like paid leave and child care.
Casten said the Senate-approved infrastructure package was a “rounding error” when it comes to climate provisions.
“If you care about climate, if you want to be able to tell the world that we deserve to be sitting at the big kids’ table, you have to do a lot more than (that),” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
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