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Biden’s Climate Agenda Threatened As Democrats Debate Budget Bill

Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, gets into his car after a vote at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, Monday, October 4, 2021.

Stephanie Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers are struggling to negotiate alternative climate change proposals for President Joe Biden’s ambitious budget plan after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin vigorously opposed the plan’s main strategy to tackle climate change.

Manchin, a moderate Democrat who can rebut the bill if the Senate is split 50-50, said he would not vote for spending in excess of $ 1.5 trillion and told the White House that he was opposed to a clean electricity plan, a key part of the presidential climate. agenda.

The clean electricity program will require some of the country’s electricity to come from zero-carbon sources such as wind and solar power, and impose financial penalties on utilities that do not meet clean energy standards. The $ 150 billion plan is critical to Biden’s commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and put the US on track to achieving zero emissions by 2050.

The president, in an attempt to salvage what once constituted his $ 3.5 trillion budget plan, meets on Tuesday with members of two rival factions of Democratic lawmakers. The outcome of this week’s negotiations could determine whether the budget bill gets through Congress and whether the already passed Senate $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill gets a majority vote in the House of Representatives.

President Joe Biden speaks during a conference call on climate change with the Largest Economies Energy and Climate Forum in the Southern Courtroom at the Eisenhower Building on September 17, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Al Drago | Getty Images

White House officials are now rewriting the bill without providing clean electricity. according to a recent New York Times report, and considering other proposals such as a carbon and methane tax. Manjin told reporters on Tuesday that the carbon tax “is not currently being discussed at all.” Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Fighting climate change has been a core component of the President’s Build Better program. Other climate-related fiscal provisions include tax breaks for electric vehicle buyers and renewable energy producers; financing the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles throughout the country; financing the renovation of the country’s power grids; and the cost of reducing emissions from federal buildings and factories.

Democrats have previously pledged that they would not exclude the clean electricity program from legislation, arguing that this is by far the most realistic way for the United States to quickly cut emissions. Democrats are keen to approve both plans by the end of the month and have yet to agree on a final budget price, although it could be roughly $ 2 trillion.

Opposition from Manchin, whose largest source of income last year was the coal consulting business he founded, could weaken Biden’s position at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

The summit is an opportunity for the United States, the world’s second largest carbon source, to prove it is joining the global effort to combat climate change after former President Donald Trump pulled the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement, ridiculed the science of climate change, and dismantled a lot more. more than 100 environmental standards.

Providing clean electricity would be the most important climate policy ever pursued by the United States, and a chance for Biden to show the rest of the world that the United States is a leading force in the fight against climate change. Prior to the president’s infrastructure proposal, the last major push for climate law through the Senate came in 2009, when Democrats in Congress failed to accept carbon pricing.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the president will push future bills, focusing on provisions missing from the budget bill. Consequently, Democrats may need to implement a clean electricity program in a future separate bill if it is removed from the president’s agenda at the end of the month.

“Anything that we cannot solve now, we can solve in future bills,” said Psaki during a short briefing.

– CNBC Jacob Pramuk and Christina Wilkie provided reporting


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