The Sausage Making: House Democrats Gang Up To Remind Everyone They Still Care About Climate

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 22: Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images),

Your intermittent update on how Build Back Better negotiations are going.

A group of House Democrats from both the progressive and moderate wings of the party came together Monday to remind reporters that, yes, they still want to pass climate legislation. 

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) expressed optimism that if Democrats build upon what’s already been agreed to and try to do “a few things well for longer,” they’ll be able to resuscitate some version of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill that can pass both chambers. 

She and other members on the call alluded to, of course, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who dragged out negotiations for months only to leave the table late last year. He and other Democratic senators said Monday that there have been no “formal” conversations since the explosion, though some have expressed hope that there is still enough agreement between Manchin, fellow problem senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and the rest of the party to produce a salvageable reconciliation package.

“We’ve talked about a lot of different categories of things that could and could not be done,” Manchin said. 

In the important ways, the Senate is largely still in the same position on the reconciliation bill that it’s been in for months — whatever they can get from Manchin is what they’ll live with. But after he took his most recent offer off the table, suggesting they instead start the whole, long, self-damaging process over again, it remains unclear if he’ll help pass anything. 

Or as Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) quipped on the climate call: “If Congress had a slogan institutionally, it would be something like ‘solving yesterday’s problems tomorrow, maybe.’”

Looking Abroad On Climate, For Now 

  • While the bulk of Democrats’ climate agenda lives in the Build Back Better package, House Democrats have crowbarred some different provisions into a bill on competition with China in science and technology. 
  • They include: $8 billion over two years for the Green Climate Fund, a chronically underfunded United Nations reserve to “support the efforts of developing countries in responding to the challenge of climate change,” $600 million to construct solar products and establishing a position at the State Department to oversee the development of a 10-year strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change worldwide. 
  • House Republicans have denounced the green spending; one called the Green Climate Fund a “slush fund.” 
  • House Democrats hope to pass the bill this week and send it over to the Senate. The Senate passed its version of this bill, sans the major climate provisions, last June. 
  • This bill is progressing through regular order, meaning that it would require 10 Republicans and all 50 Democrats to pass the Senate. An unusual 19 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), voted for the legislation last summer. It remains to be seen whether Republicans and Manchin will be as amenable to the legislation with its new, green components. 
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