Speaking at a clean-energy facility in Colorado, President Biden on Tuesday urged Congress to pass legislation that he argued will create jobs and mitigate the impact of climate change. We must make the investments that will slow down our contributions to climate changes today, not tomorrow,” Biden stated during a speech at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Flatirons Campus in Denver. “Something that is caused by humans can be solved by humans.”
Reiterating an argument he has made in recent weeks, the president said climate change is exacerbating wildfires ravaging Western states and intensifying other natural disasters, including Hurricane Ida, which recently killed dozens and cost billions in damage in states including New York, New Jersey and Louisiana.
Biden claimed that the country had run out of time to address climate changes and that doing so would make America “stronger, more resilient,” he said.
” A drought or a fire don’t have a property line. It doesn’t matter which party you are. The climate threat isn’t going away. That’s the nature of the climate threat.”
Biden’s speech came a day after he visited California and surveyed burn scars left by wildfires, which scientists say are being made more intense and frequent by climate change. President Obama is expected to return to Washington Tuesday night. A key senator opposed provisions in a $3.5 trillion spending bill that would reduce carbon emissions.
Biden has pledged to slash the nation’s planet-warming emissions by at least 50% by 2030.
Democrats are seeking to fund climate change initiatives and expand social safety net programs by using a process called reconciliation, which requires a simple majority in the evenly split Senate to advance legislation directly tied to the budget. If all Democrats support the bill, Vice President Kamala Harris will be able to break the tie and send the bill to Biden.
However, Senator Joe Manchin III (D.W.Va.), stated this week that he opposed the use of federal dollars to force utilities to use cleaner energy. One of the key provisions of the reconciliation measure would encourage and punish utilities to increase their production of electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. In a CNN interview, Manchin said spending in this area is unnecessary because utilities are already relying more on such energy sources.
” The transition is taking place,” he stated. “It makes no sense to me at all to take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they’re going to do as the market transitions.”
In an op-ed earlier this month, Manchin called for a “strategic pause” on reconciliation, writing that he would not back a price tag as steep as $3.5 trillion “without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs.”
When asked by reporters Tuesday if he would sign a reconciliation package with slimmed-down measures to address climate change, Biden said he’s “up for more climate measures,” while pumping his fist.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said that the $3.5 trillion package was focused on “human infrastructure” since it would expand Medicare and create a universal preschool program. It also provides a pathway to citizenship for some immigrant families.
Democrats plan to raise taxes on big businesses and wealthy Americans to pay for much of the bill.
House Democrats have proposed boosting taxes on big businesses from 21% to 26.5% on annual income over $5 million. They are also seeking to raise taxes on individuals earning more than $400,000 a year — and $450,000 for couples — while levying a 3% tax on Americans whose annual adjusted income tops $5 million.
As they grapple with the reconciliation measure, House Democrats are also likely to vote on a separate Senate-passed bipartisan $1-trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27, though it is unclear if this deadline will be met.