House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) tried today to reassure the world that Congress supported President Biden’s back as she held United Nations climate talks with a group of nearly two dozen Democrats in Glasgow, Scotland House of Representatives put on.
Pelosi and her senior officials portrayed the $ 1.75 trillion spending laws passed in Congress primarily as a historic effort to fulfill Biden’s pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
“Our congressional delegation has come here fresh from advancing the Better Reconstruction Legislation, which is the most ambitious and rigorous climate and clean energy legislation ever,” Pelosi said at a press conference in Glasgow today.
The pending reconciliation package, combined with the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed over the weekend, would keep the world on track to hit net zero by 2050 and potentially keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, said the chairman of the House of Representatives’ climate crisis committee chair Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).
“I think once we get this historic package through, it will help the world keep 1.5s alive,” Castor said in Glasgow.
These are bold claims that offer Biden a political crutch as the Chinese delegation to the conference known as COP 26 questions how the US would deliver on its promise to cut emissions in half in less than a decade without Congress.
But while the reconciliation package – dubbed the Build Back Better Act – would actually spend a lot on the climate, at $ 555 billion, it is still far from the finish line.
The House of Representatives on Friday passed the separate bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes around $ 500 billion in new spending and large top-ups for electric vehicles and mass transit, and sent it to Biden’s desk to become law.
But the much larger reconciliation spending bill remains in political limbo as House moderates wait to get a score from the Congressional Budget Office before securing their support.
It could also change in the Senate, where Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) has raised concerns about the proposed methane charge, one of the bill’s key emissions provisions.
Senate Environment and Public Works Senate Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.) listed amendments she would like to propose this morning, including removing funding for EPA climate control.
The CBO said today that it could not offer a specific timeline for assessing the massively complex legislation, but Pelosi reiterated that it intends to pass it when the House returns from hiatus next week.
Pelosi acknowledged that Congress has been a hurdle to climate action in the past, a point ex-President Obama made in his own remarks in Glasgow yesterday (Green wire, November 8th).
“When President Obama was president and we had a majority in the first term, we passed a very strong climate bill in the House of Representatives,” said Pelosi. “Sixty votes in the Senate is a very difficult obstacle to overcome.”
Still, today Pelosi and other committee chairs painted a consistently optimistic picture of Glasgow, highlighting the billions contained in the Reconciliation Act for environmental justice and justice.
The speaker brought a delegation of 21 other House Democrats to Glasgow, including committee chairs such as MP Frank Pallone (DN.J.), who heads Energy and Trade, and MP Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), The division chair Natural resources.
Democratic senators also take part in COP 26, with Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Leading a delegation that also includes Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.). Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) And Ed Markey ( D-Mass.) Have also performed at COP 26 events.
“Led by our delegation, the United States Congress is showing the world real leadership on climate,” said Pelosi.
Other Democrats have also issued warnings. Before setting off for COP 26, Grijalva broke the conference’s lack of indigenous representation.
“The United Nations is in a way repeating the same tragic mistakes that led to the start of the climate crisis,” Grijalva said in a statement yesterday. “Climate change is the direct result of industrialized nations exploiting the world’s natural resources and violently stealing land from indigenous and poor peoples.”
Meanwhile, MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) – another prominent member of Pelosi’s COP 26 delegation – warned US officials not to go too far to praise their climate goals before actually doing something.
Democrats must “take steps to gain international respect and authority,” Ocasio-Cortez said today during a separate event on the sidelines of COP 26. When Congress passes the “Build Back Better Act,” she added, “there “More needs to be done,” from executive measures to further climate laws.
“We need to cut emissions to get recognition for our commitment to climate change,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “It is really that easy.”