In a letter to President Biden on Monday, House Democrats urged him to restart negotiations on the climate goals included in the stalled Build Back Better legislation. The letter, signed by 89 progressive and moderate Democrats, including six committee chairs, calls for the White House’s clean energy agenda to be accelerated.
In December 2021, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin blocked the final stages of the Build Back Better Act, a Democrat-led social spending bill. The legislation included a $555 billion investment in clean energy, the largest climate investment in US history.
The letter comes just a week after Manchin elaborated on what he expected from a Democratic-led spending bill. While the senator has been vocal in his opposition to the proposed spending bill, he has stated that he is willing to support a smaller package.
“I’ve always said I’m open to talking to anyone,” Manchin said. “I just want to make sure we find a balance and something we can afford, and that whatever we do, we do it right.”
The letter emphasizes the importance of the climate crisis, saying, “We witnessed the devastating effects of the climate crisis throughout 2021, demonstrating why transformational action cannot wait. Inaction now will have far-reaching consequences for future generations.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on February 28th that concluded our planet is running out of time. “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all,” according to the report. The Build Back Better climate legislation would lay the groundwork for mitigating the worst social, environmental, and economic consequences of our warming world.
“Record-breaking wildfires, superstorms, and heat waves have already cost our country tens of billions of dollars more in damages in just the last four years,” the House Democrats write. “Damages have also included the loss of homes and the displacement of families across the country—the effects of which disproportionately impact communities of color. It is clear that climate change is a threat multiplier to our economy.”
Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York, Nikema Williams of Georgia, and Sean Casten (led the letter-writing effort. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer did not sign. Bowman said in a tweet after the letter was published, “There is no other way to say it: fossil fuels are killing us.”
Representative Sean Casten said Democrats should seize the political opportunity to capitalize on the White House’s clean energy leader, the “science-affirming” Congressional majority, and the American people’s demand for climate legislation.
“Every day we fail to reach an agreement on the baseline climate investments passed by the House is a day American families and businesses pay the price at the pumps and oil-rich oligarchs profit. Restarting negotiations with climate action is the clearest if not the only path forward to deliver tangible results to the American people,” Casten said.
According to The Hill, passing only the Build Back Better Act’s climate provisions could jeopardize other social spending initiatives. “In the midst of escalating wars caused by fossil-fueled authoritarianism, it is clearer than ever that we need historic investments in clean energy now,” Bowman says.