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President- elect Joe Biden answer questions from the press at the Queen in Wilmington, DE on November 10, 2020. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden answering questions from the press at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on November 10, 2020. (Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Demanding White House Climate Office and 'Fierce' Cabinet Picks, Groups Urge Biden to Claim His 'FDR Moment'

"Democrats have a once-in-a-generation moment to deliver policies at the scale of the crises our generation is facing."

Jon Queally

The left is not waiting for permission to be heard—and they have some "fierce" Cabinet picks in mind for Joe Biden as well as a plan to help save the planet from climate destruction and the U.S. economy from ruin.

"President-elect Biden must embrace this historic moment by keeping the party united and appointing progressive leaders who will help him usher in the most progressive Democratic administration in generations."
—Alexandra Rojas, Justice Democrats
While a coalition of progressive advocacy groups is circulating a memo on Capitol Hill arguing that bold, transformative policies in the next Congress will be essential for the Democratic Party to win the kinds of policy changes that will improve the lives of ordinary people as well as solidify the party's electoral prospects above and beyond what was seen in 2020, a related effort launched Wednesday morning is pressuring President-elect Joe Biden to move swiftly to make tackling the climate crisis by making a major national economic mobilization and energy system transformation plan central to his first-year agenda.

First reported by the New York Times, organizers from the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats began an active campaign Wednesday for Biden to create a White House Office of Climate Mobilization as well as to appoint bold, progressive leaders to prominent executive branch posts as a way to transform the nation and achieve lasting change after four years of destructive environmental policies and regulatory rollbacks by the Trump administration.

The groups argue that trying to compromise with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, should the GOP retain control of upper chamber, would be a disastrous miscalculation and are urging Biden to take bold steps with his executive authority and other tools.

According to the groups:

Biden has a ten-year window to stop the worst and most permanent effects of climate change. He can avoid Mitch McConnell's forced delays by creating a brand new executive office and senior position with wide-reaching power to combat the climate crisis—just as we mobilized to defeat the existential threat of Nazi Germany in WWII.

This new position will convene and coordinate across the president's Cabinet agencies and, ultimately, hold every federal department accountable to the national project of stopping climate change.

The Office of Climate Mobilization will deeply embed this mission into all of our spending, regulations, policies, and actions. The Office of Climate Mobilization will not require Mitch McConnell's approval. Joe Biden can and must appoint a qualified leader who is trusted by the climate and environmental justice community.

Alexandra Rojas and Varshini Prakash, executive directors of Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement respectively, explained there is no more time for incrementalism and corporate-friendly half-measures on the part of Democrats—not when the planet is burning and the economy is on the verge of seismic collapse.

"President-elect Biden must embrace this historic moment by keeping the party united and appointing progressive leaders who will help him usher in the most progressive Democratic administration in generations," said Rojas.

As part of the new campaign push, the groups launched a new website—ClimateMandate.org—and released this video to help deliver their message:

"Democrats have a once-in-a-generation moment to deliver policies at the scale of the crises our generation is facing," said Sunrise's Prakash, who also served as an adviser in the Biden-Sanders task force on climate policy that came together after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) left the primary.

"Young people helped deliver this historic majority to Joe Biden," Prakash added. "The Senate can't be an excuse; whether or not Mitch McConnell remains the Majority Leader, we need an Office of Climate Mobilization and visionary personnel in the Biden administration who are ready to use every tool in their disposal to create millions of good-paying green jobs."

The groups are also urging Biden to appoint progressives to key leadership posts, including Sanders for labor secretary, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for secretary of interior, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for secretary of treasury, Keith Ellison for attorney general, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) for secretary of state, and economist Darrick Hamilton for chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. 

Arguing that the climate crisis presents an urgent and unique opportunity for Biden to have his "FDR moment," the group's website says that there will not be a better chance for him to erect a lasting legacy than the choices he makes out of the gates.

"We can unite our nation by solving the crises we have in common: Covid-19, climate change, systemic racism, and an economic recession," the site states. "Joe Biden must command the federal government with fierce urgency and bold creativity."


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