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Progressives draw red line on keeping climate provisions in infrastructure bill

Early in the day Heinrich tweeted insufficiently ambitious climate legislation “shouldn’t count on every Democratic vote”, and linked to a POLITICO article in which national climate adviser Gina McCarthy acknowledged that President Joe Biden may not get all of his climate priorities higher, such as a clean energy standard, eventually infrastructure legislation.

Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Was even more blunt in a tweet: “No climate, no agreement,” he wrote.

At the same virtual event, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) Said he was “very confident” that the Senate would eventually be able to rally around an infrastructure package with a major climate title, including a clean energy standard. He later added that he “I agree[s] With all my heart“with Heinrich’s feeling that Democratic votes should not be taken for granted.

“In fact, I think this is the only infrastructure bill we can pass through the Senate,” he said of a bill with sufficiently strong climate provisions.

One of the upper house’s most vocal climate action advocates, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), said in an interview “that it is probably wise not to get too excited about alleged elements of an untrained bill ”, but acknowledged that there was a lot of work to be done. do.

“I am still very anxious and will stay very anxious until we have a solid 1.5 degrees [Celsius] bill and a passageway, “he said, referring to provisions strong enough to limit the rise in global temperature to that level.

Whitehouse said the breakdown in talks between Senate Republicans and the Biden administration did not help or hurt the prospects for climate action because “it was never going to be the path to a serious climate bill.” .

After the flood of tweets and gradual comments, McCarthy linked to the POLITICO article and tweeted: “When @POTUS think climate, he thinks jobs. This is why – and let me quote this article – “the White House [is] fight to keep every element “of the US jobs plan and deliver” what is needed to achieve its climate goal. ” We have to get there. “

Evergreen Action executive director Jamal Raad said the administration allayed some concerns on Tuesday evening when his organization held talks with the White House, where Biden officials reiterated their support for an electricity standard clean.

Raad said his group and Allied Progressive Groups had openly warned the administration to deal with Republicans, fearing critical provisions like the standard would fall apart – a sentiment he said some Democratic senators reflected in a growing openness to publicly criticizing the White House for compromising on the climate.

“Senators support their cause but also send a message that half measures and compromises on the defining issue of our time are not acceptable,” he said.

The escalation comes as several top Democrats have presented a plan that they would adopt a bipartisan package by regular order – and return to make other Biden administration priorities, like climate change, through ‘a reconciliation package.

“The more traditional things – roads, highways, bridges, railways, ports, security, all that, broadband – that would be handled through a regular order,” the president of the Environment and Human Rights said on Tuesday. Public Works, Tom Carper (D-Del.). “Then, if we can’t also deal with the other issues that the president called infrastructure, [we’d] come back and do them in a different way.

They also have to face the fact that some moderate members of the conference, notably and noticeably Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), have expressed their reluctance to pass legislation with Democratic votes alone.

Heinrich’s comments were amplified and echoed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), who suggested progressives in the tightly divided House would also not vote for a package without strong enough provisions on climate change. .

“Mitch McConnell and the Koch brothers are not worth setting the planet on fire” she tweeted. “I know some Democrats may disagree with me, but that’s my unpopular opinion of the day.”

The Climate Hawk Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) also weighed on twitter: “Just a friendly reminder that the executive doesn’t write invoices.”

Zack Colman contributed to this report.

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