Biden's Best Change To Push Climate Policy May Gain GOP Nod
Democrats are blowing the best shot they’ve had to pass a climate bill in a decade. That opportunity lies in the Build Back Better Act, or BBB, a sweeping “soft infrastructure” bill that contains about half a trillion dollars in climate funding, Zoya Teirstein reported for Grist.
Photo Insert: US President Joe Biden jests with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
Democrats hoped they could pass the bill via the budget reconciliation process — a Senate procedure that allows the majority party to circumvent minority party opposition and pass legislation that pertains to the budget with 50 votes instead of 60 votes.
The bill hit a wall when Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced that he opposes it. With even one member of their caucus opposed, Senate Democrats can’t move forward with Build Back Better or any other major agenda item on President Joe Biden’s long list of presidential priorities.
But Manchin isn’t against all of BBB, only certain parts of it. He hasn’t taken issue with the climate parts of the bill, which Democrats already watered down to appeal to his fossil fuel-friendly tastes.
This week, Democratic leadership started thinking seriously about moving forward with BBB by breaking it up into pieces. “I’ve been talking to a number of my colleagues on the Hill,” Biden said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I think it’s clear that we would be able to get support for the $500 billion-plus for energy and the environment.”
A funny thing happens when you separate out the $500 billion climate portion of the Build Back Better Act from the rest of the package: It starts to look a lot like the kind of climate plan Republicans say they support.
Even a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine Republicans supporting a federal climate plan. The Republican party has eschewed climate action since the 1980s.
But recently, some Republican politicians have realized that their hard line on climate change is alienating portions of their voter base, especially younger Republicans who are beginning to sound a lot like Democrats when it comes to this issue specifically. The physical impacts of climate change have become harder to ignore, and Republicans fear being left behind.