Haaland: Reconciliation bill will pass but may ‘take a little bit more time’
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland sounded an optimistic note at the COP26 international climate summit about President Biden’s environmental agenda, despite an ongoing stalemate over a major spending package.
Haaland, who represented New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District before her nomination this year, said on a call with reporters that she has been in touch with former colleagues about the reconciliation package.
“I haven’t had anyone voice their concerns that Build Back Better won’t pass,” she said.
Many of those onetime colleagues, she added, have “stated unequivocally that they are supporting that plan.”
“I have to believe that every single member of Congress knows and understands how important it is for their own communities,” Haaland added. “This bill needs to have a few questions answered, perhaps, but I don’t lose sleep at night thinking it’s not going to pass. … It might take a little bit more time [but] I feel very confident about Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] and the job she does.”
The reconciliation package has been tied up in ongoing negotiations, particularly pertaining to its environmental provisions. A key clean energy provision, the Clean Electricity Performance Program, has been removed after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed opposition. Meanwhile, Pelosi has said the House will not take up a bipartisan Senate-passed infrastructure package without the reconciliation bill.
Haaland was also asked about a recent agreement to phase out financing of coal projects announced at the COP26 summit. While 18 nations signed onto the pact, the U.S. was not among them.
“I want you to know we are doing every single thing we can to manage the public lands of the United States, which belong to every single American, with an eye toward climate change,” Haaland responded. She referred back to funding in the Build Back Better framework for resilience projects, including management of abandoned mine lands.
“I know that’s not the answer you’re seeking. I just want you to know that we are working with what we have,” Haaland added.
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