Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks at a press conference with House Democrats on Build Back Better legislation, outside the United States Capitol on November 17 2021 in Washington, DC.
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House Democrats passed President Joe Biden’s social policy and $ 1.75 trillion climate bill, a move that is by far the biggest effort in U.S. history to fight against climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It positions the United States to halve its emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.
The bill invests $ 555 billion in climate programs, primarily by providing tax incentives for low-emission energy sources. That’s less than the $ 600 billion in the Democrats’ original $ 3.5 trillion plan, but still appears to be the most important category in Biden’s bill.
If passed, Biden’s framework would enshrine climate change action in law, making it difficult for future administrations to reverse those measures. The last American effort to pass climate legislation dates back to 2009, when Democrats in Congress did not approve a carbon pricing system under former President Barack Obama.
The main climate spending elements of the bill include 10-year tax credits to expand and accelerate investments in renewable energy, including wind, solar and nuclear. The bill also includes a proposal to increase the electric vehicle tax credit to $ 12,500 for vehicles manufactured at a unionized plant in the United States.
Other climate-related elements in the legislation include:
- Offer discounts to consumers for the switch to clean energy and electrification
- Advancing environmental justice by investing in disadvantaged communities
- Create a new Civilian Climate Corp to create jobs and conserve public lands
- Invest in coastal restoration, forest management and soil conservation.
US President Joe Biden attends a meeting on the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 2, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
“Building a better world will show that we can grow our economies, fight climate change and leave a better, cleaner and more livable planet for all of our children,” the president said in a speech at the climate summit COP26 in Glasgow. , in Scotland earlier this month.
“This is the largest climate vote in our history,” Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “It’s about creating jobs, driving innovation, advancing fairness and finally dealing with the rising costs and growing dangers of the climate crisis.”
Getting the plan through the Senate could prove difficult. Democrats cannot afford any defection from their 50-member caucus. And two key Democratic centrists, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, have not endorsed the president’s framework.
During negotiations in Washington, Manchin succeeded in derailing the clean electricity program, an initial central part of the president’s framework that would have prompted energy companies to move away from fossil fuels for clean energy and penalized companies that did not. Manchin State is a major producer of coal and gas, and the senator’s only source of income last year was a coal consultancy firm he founded.
Senate Democrats aim to get the plan through before Christmas and complete their platform ahead of next year’s midterm elections. The House will have to re-pass the bill if it is revised.