Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to keep spending on climate change in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget despite opposition from a key Democratic colleague Sen. Joe Manchin, the key swing vote.
Schumer (D-NY) said Monday that the Democrats are doing “everything” they can to help Biden meet his goal of curbing US carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
“The bottom line for all of us is: We can’t let this moment pass us by,” Schumer said at an event hosted by the environmental groups League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power, Politico reported.
“The Senate will act in a way that’s commensurate with the magnitude of the climate crisis,” he said.
But the bill, which along with funds to fight climate change, also contains a raft of other spending on health care, family leave, and education, has Manchin and some other Democrats balking at the price tag.
Manchin, who represents West Virginia, the second-largest coal producer in the country, appeared cool to the climate change provisions in an interview on Sunday.
CNN host Dana Bash asked Manchin whether he supported the bill that would use tax incentives and carbon capture technology to cut emissions.
Manchin said the country’s power grid has undergone substantial changes over the past two decades.
“In the year 2000, 52 percent of our electricity came from coal. Only about 16 percent came from natural gas, and only about 9.5 percent came from renewables,” he said on “State of the Union.”
“2020, 19 percent from coal, 40 percent from natural gas, and up to 20 percent for renewables. The transition is happening. Now they’re wanting to pay companies to do what they’re already doing. Makes no sense to me at all for us to take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they’re going to do as the market transitions,” he said.
“You don’t support the provisions?” Bash asked.
“It makes no sense at all,” Manchin said.
The senator, whose vote in the 50-50 divided Senate could doom the bill, also questioned the need for a $3.5 trillion package and suggested it could be pared down by a couple of trillion dollars.
“He will not have my vote on $3.5 [trillion] and Chuck knows that, and we’ve talked about this,” Manchin said on CNN. “It’s not going to be $3.5 — I can assure you.”
He said the cost of the spending package could be whittled down to around $1.5 trillion.