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Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice

Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice
© Bonnie Cash

Democrats are introducing a new resolution outlining an economic vision they hope will fight climate change while battling racial injustice.

The THRIVE Act, short for Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy, echoes many of the principles laid out in the Green New Deal, calling for strong labor protections and access to unions, “improving upon New Deal-era institutions” and curbing global warming.

Democratic lawmakers see the legislation as a way to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

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“We are experiencing a collision of crises: the COVID pandemic, the effects of climate change, racial and economic injustices have led to the greatest health crisis we've seen in 100 years, the greatest economic crisis we've seen in 75 years, and we can’t play whack-a-mole with these crises,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

“We can’t pick one alone to focus on, and that's the beauty of THRIVE. It brings it all together.”

The bill puts an added focus on racial inequality, calling for 40 percent of federal government investments to go toward communities “harmed by racist or unjust practices,” while calling for efforts to stem pollution that often overburdens many of the same spaces. 

The legislation comes as House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE (D-Calif.) said climate change would get an early focus in Democrats' 2021 agenda.

The resolution, introduced in the House by Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Rep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (D-N.M.) with 85 co-sponsors, is more a list of priorities than a pathway to action.

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It calls for curtailing pollution and removing all lead pipes, while bolstering support for public schools and housing and offering alternatives to incarceration. 

“THRIVE makes it very clear that we're not leaving behind any of those communities,”  said Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOcasio-Cortez says having Green New Deal would have helped handle COVID-19 pandemic OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes MORE (D-Mass.) a sponsor of the 2019 Green New Deal legislation.

“We are going to have an incredible economic revolution in this country that provides the jobs of the future, while ensuring that we deal with the historic inequities. We know that Black and Brown families have always breathed different air than suburban white communities,” Markey said. He also noted that these same communities have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.

“The future has just walked into this room and we are going to save the planet.” 

The resolution states a goal for the U.S. to move to entirely carbon-free electricity by 2035, in addition to ensuring the global temperature does not increase another 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the resolution does not offer specifics about how to reach those goals.

The resolution states that no funding dolled out as part of the vision will go to fossil fuel companies.

The sponsors estimate the legislation will spur 16 million new jobs. The resolution calls for bolstering infrastructure, health care, retrofitting homes and buildings to reduce their carbon footprint and investing in clean energy.

Following through on the legislation would likely require Democratic majorities in Congress and a party flip at the White House.

“If, god willing, I become majority leader next year, you can be sure we'll make it a top priority to pass a just economic renewable bill,” Schumer said. 

"Even in the face of this global pandemic we can and must develop solutions to the climate crisis that create good jobs, invest in our communities and ensure healthy lives for everyone, regardless of ZIP code. Our response will shape our society for decades to come.”