How Senate Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget addresses climate change

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President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats have vowed to push forward a $3.5 trillion budget resolution framework that would fund a clean energy transition and policies to combat climate change.

The blueprint, which contains nearly all the elements of the president's American Families Plan — including funding for child care, paid leave and education — comes after Biden's climate proposals were slashed from the bipartisan infrastructure deal during negotiations with Senate Republicans.

The plan involves tax incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles, as well as major investments to transition the economy away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

The resolution also proposes a clean energy standard, a mandate that would require a portion of U.S. electricity to come from renewables.

Such a mandate has received widespread support from environmental activists and scientists, who say it's critical to meet the president's commitment to slash carbon emissions in half over the next decade and put the U.S. on track to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Democrats are looking to pass the bill later this summer on a party-line vote. If the budget resolution is signed into law, it would be the biggest legislative push in U.S. history to combat climate change.

The last big effort to pass climate legislation was in 2009, when congressional Democrats failed to approve a carbon pricing system under former President Barack Obama.

The resolution includes the creation of a civilian climate corps program for young people, which would produce more jobs that address climate change and help conserve the planet.

There is also proposed funding for energy-efficient building weatherization and electrification projects, as well as language about methane gas reduction and polluter import fees to raise revenue and increase greenhouse gas emissions reduction efforts.

Progressive Senate Democrats have so far praised the inclusion of climate policy in the resolution. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the Budget Committee chairman, earlier this week said the agreement will start "the process of having this great country lead the world in transforming our energy system."

However, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., the moderate Democrat whose support may be critical in the bill's passage, told reporters that he's "very, very disturbed" by climate provisions that he believes could eliminate fossil fuels.

"I know they have the climate portion in here, and I'm concerned about that," said Manchin, who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Democrat did not rule out his support for the resolution.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Wednesday said that the inclusion of a clean energy standard in the resolution has received "a very favorable response from many people on both sides of the aisle."

"There are things in there for the American people that equate to jobs, global competitiveness, a strong infrastructure and preparation for climate change," Regan said during an interview on NPR.  

Congress is working on the resolution in tandem with the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, which is still being drafted.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he wants to have votes on the budget resolution and the infrastructure bill before the Senate goes on recess in August.

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