A group of more than 80 House and Senate Democrats on Tuesday laid out their vision for a climate jobs program called the Civilian Climate Corps that is expected to be part of a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill filled with Democratic priorities.

A new letter from Democrats spanning the ideological spectrum pushed for the program to prioritize natural climate solutions, clean energy, climate resilience and addressing environmental justice. 

The lawmakers also called for “ambitious” labor standards, including a living wage and an award to help participants pay for college or pay back student loans. The letter did not specify how much money should be provided for that program.

They said half of the climate program’s investment should be directed into front-line communities disproportionately impacted by environmental issues and that half of the Corps’ members should be recruited from such communities.

The push was spearheaded by Reps. Joe Neguse (Colo.), Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (N.Y.), Judy Chu (Calif.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) and Bobby Rush (Ill.) and by Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Chris Coons (Del.) and Ed Markey (Mass.). 

Some of these lawmakers have already introduced legislation with different specifications for the program. 

In their letter, the lawmakers acknowledged those differences, saying that “while each of these bills vary in detail, we collectively ask that the upcoming reconciliation package include text that supports and funds a Civilian Climate Corps program as outlined in this letter.”

During the press conference, Ocasio-Cortez described this as a “yes, and” approach, saying the proposals are “inclusive” rather than competitive. 

The lawmakers are also pushing for prioritizing programs that offer apprenticeship opportunities and job placement assistance. 

They also want to create a “central entity” in the White House to coordinate and oversee the Corps’ work and have funding for enlisting Americans “at scale” including through AmeriCorps infrastructure. 

Climate advocates have also championed the proposal — with the youth-led Sunrise Movement focusing its advocacy around the program as well.

Tags Bobby Rush Chris Coons Chuck Schumer Civilian Climate Corps Climate change Ed Markey Joe Neguse Judy Chu Marcy Kaptur Ron Wyden
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