Some Senate Democrats say they will oppose infrastructure deal with GOP if climate measures are dropped, potentially derailing package
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) asks questions to a panel of pharmaceutical company CEOs during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II on February 26, 2019 in Washington, DC . The committee heard testimony from a panel of pharmaceutical company CEOs about the reasons for the rising cost of prescription drugs.
Some Democratic senators say they will oppose a bipartisan infrastructure deal that doesn't address the climate crisis.
"Passing on the overall climate in a major infrastructure bill? No way," Senator Ron Wyden told Insider on Thursday.
Biden's willingness to pursue a deal could lead to a weakened plan with the Republicans that could cost him Democratic support.
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A group of Senate Democrats are escalating their criticism of ongoing infrastructure negotiations with Republicans - and some are warning of the failure of an agreement that leaves out climate change measures.
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At least six Democratic senators have publicly voiced concerns that a bill negotiated with Republicans would produce a weakened package that could not do justice to the magnitude of last week's climate crisis. These include Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island; Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; and Brian Schatz from Hawaii.
But two Democrats go further. Sens. Ron Wyden from Oregon and Ed Markey from Massachusetts have both announced in the past few days that they would reject a package that does not contain provisions to aggressively combat climate change. This is the top priority for the Biden administration
“To pass on the climate as a whole in a major infrastructure bill? Definitely not, ”Wyden told Insider on Thursday. "Do you think I'm blunt enough? No way."
Markey was just as strong.
"We cannot put forward an infrastructure bill in 2021 that does not focus on the climate," said Markey in an interview with MSNBC on the same day. "No climate, no deal."
The increasing pace of criticism poses a major challenge to President Joe Biden as he continues to pursue a bipartisan infrastructure deal. He put forward a far-reaching proposal to accelerate the country's transition from fossil fuels to clean energy with measures such as federal support to build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles.
Other provisions include tax incentives for green electricity and money to convert homes into energy efficient homes. But Republicans have dismissed the climate plans as measures that go well beyond their infrastructure definition, which is limited to roads, bridges and broadband.
Biden has expressed his willingness to cut his original proposal, a move that could cost him Democratic support in both the Senate and House of Representatives and cause the plan to fail. Still, some GOP senators argue that Democrats should be content to focus on strengthening the country's ability to endure worsening disasters.
“If you look for a line item that says 'Climate', you won't see it. As we know, climate initiatives can be incorporated into so much, ”Senator Lisa Murkowski told reporters on Thursday. "If you have support in dealing with the threats of erosion and flooding and the super storms, it is climate-related."
Murkowski added, "We capture so much of this in the area of resilience. When people look at the details, they'll see there's a lot in there."
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