White House: Clean energy tax credits, electricity standard are priorities for reconciliation package

White House: Clean energy tax credits, electricity standard are priorities for reconciliation package
© Greg Nash

A top White House adviser said that a clean electricity standard and clean energy tax credits are "non-negotiables" the administration wants to see included in an infrastructure package.

In a discussion with Punchbowl News, National Climate adviser Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Obama to attend Glasgow climate summit White House puts together climate finance strategy MORE said that the measures needed to be included in a larger, presumably Democrat-supported package to be passed through a congressional budgetary process called reconciliation.

The reconciliation package would be in addition to a bipartisan agreement announced by President BidenJoe BidenPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks State school board leaves national association saying they called parents domestic terrorists Sunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases MORE and moderate lawmakers last week. However, the deal between the president and moderates still needs to be passed by Congress. 

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"We need to make sure that we're sending a signal that we want renewable energy and that it's going to win," McCarthy said.

"It's also about developing a clean energy standard which says, 'Where do we need to be in 2030?,' 'Where do we need to be in 2035 to hit that net-zero target?'" she said. 

The president has set a goal of establishing a standard requiring the power sector to get its energy from clean sources by 2035.

"We do have some bottom lines in this," the adviser said. "We need tax credits, we need a clean energy standard."

She also said she'd also "love to see" a Civilian Climate Corps, which would put people to work in areas like conservation, included.

The White House also released a memo from McCarthy and White House senior adviser Anita DunnAnita DunnAides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims White House pitches Democrats on messaging strategy for Biden agenda White House: Clean energy tax credits, electricity standard are priorities for reconciliation package MORE that stated those three policies are among those Biden continues to pursue.

The memo, dated Tuesday, along with McCarthy's Wednesday remarks, come as the White House has sought to toe the line between reassuring Republicans that the president will support the bipartisan deal while also informing progressives that he’ll also pursue bolder action on climate change. 

The bipartisan agreement left out or scaled down investment in several of Biden’s goals, including those highlighted by the White House officials. 

Biden initially said he wouldn’t sign the bipartisan deal without an additional budget reconciliation package, which would presumably include more of his priorities, but later walked back those comments, saying he didn’t intend to issue a veto threat on the bipartisan deal he backed. 

In the days since, the White House has also pushed back against critics who say the deal doesn’t do enough on climate change.

The McCarthy-Dunn memo doesn't explicitly say that those measures should be included in a reconciliation package which would only need Democratic votes to pass the Senate, but mentioned reconciliation and said the president will use “all the tools at his disposal.”

“The President remains committed to using all the tools at his disposal to drive a whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis, create good-paying, union jobs, and advance environmental justice,” they wrote. 

“As we work to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, we will also continue to advance the full suite of proposals in the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan through additional congressional action, including budget reconciliation, to ensure we build back our economy and country better,” they added. 

The memo says that the tax credits will specifically be for businesses and consumers who invest in technologies including renewables, battery storage and electric vehicles. 

It also highlights the policies of using federal purchasing to boost clean energy and doing efficient upgrades for homes and commercial buildings. 

And it delves into some of the provisions of the bipartisan deal, saying that agreement will include the creation of an Infrastructure Financing Authority that will provide billions for clean transportation, clean energy, water and retrofits. 

Updated at 1:14 p.m.