Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps

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.

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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 NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Biden expresses confidence on climate in renewable energy visit More than 100 Democrats back legislation lowering Medicare eligibility age to 60 MORE (Colo.), Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (N.Y.), Judy ChuJudy May ChuFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Grassley commends Korean American judicial nominee for 'hard work ethic' of 'you and your people' MORE (Calif.), Marcy KapturMarcia (Marcy) Carolyn KapturAcquiescing to Berlin, emboldening Moscow and squeezing Kyiv: Biden and Nordstream 2 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps | Manchin to back controversial public lands nominee | White House details environmental justice plan Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps MORE (Ohio) and Bobby RushBobby Lee RushIllinois Democrats propose new 'maximized' congressional map Manchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill Overnight Energy: Democrats tout new report to defend KeystoneXL cancellation MORE (Ill.) and by Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Best shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say MORE (Ore.), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Who is afraid of the EU's carbon border adjustment plan? MORE (Del.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden likely to tap Robert Califf to return as FDA head Biden faces pressure to pass infrastructure bills before climate summit Senate Democrat says Facebook offers 'crocodile tears about protecting children' MORE (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. 

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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.