After over 100 hours of negotiations with Congressional members in recent months, President Joe Biden announced Thursday morning a Build Back Better framework he hopes can gain the support of swing moderate Democrat votes as well as the House Progressive Caucus to offer their votes in supporting the bipartisan infrastructure plan.
In the hours ahead of his trip overseas for the COP26 to share with the world America’s promises on reducing emissions, he says the new $1.75 trillion framework, down from the original estimates of $3.5 trillion, lays out the economic agenda for his campaign promises.
This includes 10 times more funding addressing the climate than any bill ever passed before, Biden says in an address Thursday morning. The climate provisions will position the U.S. to contribute a 50-52% reduction in emissions by 2030 and do so in a way that “grows domestic industries, creates good paying union jobs and addresses long-standing environmental injustices,” he says.
Specifically, the framework will invest $105 billion in climate resilience investments and incentives to address extreme weather such as wildfires, droughts and hurricanes, including in forestry, wetlands and agriculture. It also includes the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, which Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark., previously coined the climate police. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., defended the corps creation as one of the initial authors of those provisions.
“We have no information on what the climate police may be, what its purpose is, how it will work, why it is needed, or any other answers to the most fundamental questions American taxpayers expect this body to know and deliberate on before spending trillions of dollars,” Boozman says, also adding the Democrats are directing the "climate police" to operate on federal forests and private land.
The framework also offers $320 billion for clean energy tax credits, $110 billion for investments and incentives for clean energy technology, manufacturing and supply chains; and $20 billion for clean energy procurement.
The previous proposals estimated an additional $26 billion in conservation funding to reward farmers for climate smart agricultural practices.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says she appreciates the partnership of House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., and House Committee on Education and Labor Bobby Scott, D-Va., who have been instrumental in negotiating the provisions impacting the ag sector.
“The Build Back Better Bill grows jobs in rural communities and invests in solutions to the climate crisis to help strengthen our future,” says Stabenow. “The bill scales up climate-smart agriculture programs that farmers, foresters, and rural businesses use to protect resources and be more energy efficient. It helps small towns fight for their fair share of federal dollars. And the bill takes meaningful steps to lower costs for families and helps make sure children get healthy meals during the school year and through the summer.”
Although Congress still needs to take the framework and write out legislative text, the sentiment is mixed on whether it still has the votes needed to get it across the finish line. Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., she said she looks forward to getting the deal done following the months of good-faith negotiations.
As relayed by House Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal following a meeting between the caucus and the president, she says, “He said that what we do on these two bills is gonna be determinative for how the world sees us.”
Jayapal continues to say many of her caucus members want a bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better reconciliation bill to go in tandem on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday did call for a vote as soon as possible on the infrastructure plan previously advanced by the Senate and brokered with the White House.
“We’ve been clear since the spring: the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act pass together — and that hasn’t changed,” Jayapal tweeted.