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Collapse of infrastructure talks jeopardizes Biden’s climate priorities

Even before Mr Biden ended negotiations on Tuesday with West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Progressive Democrats warned Republicans were unlikely to embrace the scale of spending needed to fight climate change.

Mr Biden has now transferred his pledge to a bipartisan group of senators working on their own framework. While this group has yet to release details, one such senator, Republican from Alaska Lisa Murkowski, said in an interview Wednesday that she was open to including certain climate provisions.

“I think when you talk about infrastructure it’s really easy – it’s important, actually – to talk about some of the things that reduce emissions,” said Ms Murkowski, who helped draft legislation. on the climate in the past. “When you have an upgraded pipeline, that’s a good thing. When the new transportation system is efficient, that’s a good thing. Charging stations, EV, are good.

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney separately said the proposal included “a number of articles related to climate change,” but acknowledged that it would be more limited than many Democrats are looking for.

But even if the group does manage to agree on a plan that is acceptable to Mr Biden, it faces several hurdles, including questions about how it would be funded and whether it could attract the 60 votes needed to overcome an obstruction. .

This is why Mr Biden also spoke to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, to start working on a budget plan that could allow Democrats to use a fast-track budget process and push legislation forward. on infrastructure with a simple majority vote.

But that strategy could force Democrats to modify or abandon key elements to secure passage. And to pass this budget bill, leaders can afford little dissent – especially in the Senate, where the 50 senators who caucus with Democrats must remain united – which could lead to further changes to accommodate different priorities.

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