Bill Gates Played Key Role In Winning Manchin's Nod On Climate Bill
It was the middle of July — with temperatures surging through one of the hottest summers in US history, half of the country in drought — and the Senate’s all-important member, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, had slammed the brakes on legislation to combat global warming. Again.
Photo Insert: Gates supposedly quietly lobbied Manchin and other senators, starting before President Joe Biden had won the White House, in anticipation of a rare moment in which heavy federal spending might be secured for the clean-energy transition.
That’s when billionaire philanthropist and clean-energy investor Bill Gates got on the phone with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, whose job it was to hold together the Democrats’ no-vote-to-spare majority.
One of the world’s richest men felt he had to give one of the nation’s most powerful lawmakers a little pep talk. “[Schumer] said to me on one call that he’d shown infinite patience,” Gates recounted in an interview last week, describing for the first time his personal effort to keep climate legislation alive.
“You’re right,” Gates told Schumer. “And all you need to do is show infinite plus one patience,” Akshat Rsathi and Jennifer A. Dlouhy reported for BloombergGreen.
Gates was banking on more than just his trademark optimism about addressing climate change and other seemingly intractable problems that have been his focus since stepping down as Microsoft’s chief executive two decades ago.
As he revealed to Bloomberg Green, he has quietly lobbied Manchin and other senators, starting before President Joe Biden had won the White House, in anticipation of a rare moment in which heavy federal spending might be secured for the clean-energy transition.
Those discussions gave him reason to believe the senator from West Virginia would come through for the climate — and he was willing to continue pressing the case himself until the very end.
“The last month people felt like, OK, we tried, we're done, it failed,” Gates said.
“I believed it was a unique opportunity.” So he tapped into a relationship with Manchin that he’d cultivated for at least three years. “We were able to talk even at a time when he felt people weren’t listening.”
Few had any idea at this time that talks remained open at all. In addition to Gates, an ad hoc group of quiet Manchin influencers sprang into action just when climate legislation seemed out of reach.
Schumer’s office credited the bill's passage to persistence and otherwise declined to comment.