You’re reading Today’s Climate, and the U.S. House of Representatives just passed the most aggressive climate change bill in the nation’s history.
President Biden’s nearly $2 trillion spending package aims to expand the country’s social safety net and also includes a whopping $555 billion in funding for climate initiatives and clean energy programs, by far the largest sum of money ever dedicated by the federal government to fighting the climate crisis.
The House narrowly passed the bill Friday morning, with 220 representatives voting in favor and 213 voting against, the New York Times reported. The vote was almost entirely along party lines, with just one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, opposing the measure. Earlier this month, Golden cited a tax provision in the bill that he says would mostly benefit the wealthy as his reason for voting no.
The package now moves to the Senate, where Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote and face a difficult uphill battle. In the Senate, it’s expected that the bill will get chopped down from the House’s $1.85 trillion version to a smaller sum and sent back to the House for further, likely heated debate.
Friday’s hasty early morning vote came after the original vote scheduled for Thursday night was delayed by a marathon filibuster from Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Speaking for eight hours and 32 minutes, the California Republican actually broke a House record, eclipsing the eight-hour-seven-minute mark set by Nancy Pelosi in a 2018 speech about the “DACA” program for immigrants, CBS reported. Talk of the speech quickly began to trend on social media, particularly one clip that showed McCarthy saying, “Nobody elected Joe Biden to be FDR,” to which an irreverent AOC yelled back, “I did!”
But Republicans have hardly been the main obstacle to Biden’s climate agenda, which has been plagued by infighting between moderate and progressive Democrats.
In the House, five moderate Democrats had raised concerns over whether Biden’s bill, named the Build Back Better Act, would significantly raise the federal budget deficit. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, released Thursday evening, determined that measure would increase the deficit by $160 billion over the next 10 years—a slight increase, relatively speaking, but certainly not a negligible amount.
The report was enough to assuage concerns from the Democratic holdouts, CNBC reported, which included Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.
Passing the Build Back Better Act is critical if Democrats hope to achieve their goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent in the next decade. That benchmark is also a key indicator of whether nations can keep their promise under the Paris Agreement to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst effects of climate change.
So what’s next? Salon’s headline this morning, perhaps, sums it up best: It’s Really, Truly, Finally All on Joe Manchin.
Thanks for reading Today’s Climate, and I’ll see you next Tuesday.
A rallying cry for climate activists, it’s the minimal amount of a population that one Harvard researcher says is needed to participate in a political movement if it’s going to be successful.