Energy & Environment

Progressive groups target Schumer in climate spending push

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is seen in the basement of the Capitol as the Senate conducts votes regarding nominations on Thursday, March 10, 2022.
Greg Nash

Progressives are hoping to turn the heat up on Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in an effort to push climate action across the congressional finish line. 

Negotiations on the Biden administration’s climate and social spending agenda largely stalled in December after swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he would vote against President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. 

But progressive groups see Manchin’s comments in recent weeks as signaling an openness to spending on climate issues and are pushing leadership to bring the issue to the forefront. 

“In his own words, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised the Senate will ‘forcefully, insistently, and urgently’ address climate as the greatest threat to our country. But after more than a year of Democratic control in Washington, he still has yet to deliver,” Evergreen Action Executive Director Jamal Raad said in a statement that was first shared with The Hill. 

The group is also releasing a video on Monday, shared first with The Hill, that calls on Schumer to “deliver.”

Meanwhile, several local climate groups are planning to demonstrate outside of Schumer’s house on Monday. 

Alice Hu, a federal climate campaigner with New York Communities for Change, said she’s frustrated with the senator. 

“It’s your job as the leader of your party to manage those relationships and to broker those deals,” Hu said. 

“His inaction and his inability to do his job properly is not just costing us this piece of legislation … it’s literally costing us our future,” she added. 

Manchin earlier this month pitched a scaled-down bill that would include spending priorities for Democrats, possibly including climate change. 

​​“Half of that money should be dedicated to fighting inflation and reducing the deficit,” he said. “The other half you can pick for a 10-year program, whatever you think is the highest priority and right now it seems to be the environment.”

The Senate has been focused for the last several weeks on other issues, including Russia’s war in Ukraine and the government funding bill. 

Schumer recently alluded to the social and climate spending agenda, which would need to pass the Senate with a simple majority vote in a process called reconciliation, in a “Dear Colleague” letter. 

“In reconciliation, Senate Democrats have introduced additional legislative proposals to lower the rising cost of energy, prescription drugs and health care, and the costs of raising a family,” he wrote last week. “Senate Democrats are focused on delivering on our promise to fight these rising costs.”

Raad told The Hill that the letter was a “step in the right direction” but said he wants the majority leader to “gather the relevant leaders in the Senate and strike a deal.”

House Democrats are calling on President Biden to restart negotiations on the package. 

“Every day we fail to reach an agreement on the baseline climate investments passed by the House is a day American families and businesses pay the price at the pumps and oil-rich oligarchs profit,” nearly 90 Democrats wrote to the president on Monday.

The Hill has reached out to Schumer’s office for comment.

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Joe Biden Joe Manchin
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