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House Democrats call on Biden to restart climate negotiations in stalled spending plan

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an event at Germanna Community College February 10, 2022 in Culpeper. Virginia.
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More than 80 House Democrats this week called on President Joe Biden to restart negotiations over his delayed social spending bill and push forward funding for promoting clean energy and fighting climate change.

The letter comes several months after the House passed more than $500 billion in climate change investments as part of the president’s Build Back Better Act. Since then, the legislation has stalled in the Senate and talks between the White House and some key senators have essentially stopped.

The climate portion of the legislation would be the largest-ever federal investment in clean energy and would help the U.S. get about halfway to meeting Biden’s commitment to cut emissions in half by 2030, according to the nonpartisan analysis firm Rhodium Group.

The climate funding comes mainly through tax incentives for low-emissions energy sources. Provisions include tax credits that would speed up investments in renewable power and help expand the U.S. electric vehicle market.

“Throughout 2021, we bore witness to the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, further illustrating why transformational action cannot wait,” lawmakers wrote in a letter on Monday. “Inaction now will mean irreversible consequences for our future generations.”

“Given the widespread agreement in the U.S. Senate for House passed climate provisions, we have an opportunity to recommence negotiations with climate serving as a key starting point,” they wrote.

Rep. Sean Casten speaks during a rally about climate change issues near the U.S. Capitol on September 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Democratic Reps. Sean Casten of Illinois, Jamaal Bowman of New York and Nikema Williams of Georgia led the letter. Other signees include all the Democratic members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, as well as members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Lawmakers cited a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned that limiting global warming to close to 1.5 degrees Celsius will become impossible in the next two decades without immediate and major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The letter did not mention Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who helped sink the Build Back Better Act by opposing it in December. The Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote in any deadlock.

Every Senate Democrat would need to support the $1.75 trillion House-passed bill for it to reach the president’s desk and become law. Every Republican in Congress has opposed the plan, arguing it would worsen the worst inflation the U.S. has seen in decades.

Earlier this year, Biden said he will likely need to break up the plan but that he believes Congress can still pass parts of it. The president also said he thinks he can get enough support for the $555 billion in climate spending.

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