Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito speaks at a press conference

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) speaks at a press conference on March 4, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Biden Warned Not to Abandon Key Climate Plans to Appease 'Science-Denying Republicans'

"If Democrats decide that climate priorities can be put off for later, don't be surprised if young people put off voting for them again."

Jake Johnson

Environmentalists are warning President Joe Biden against ditching critical green energy investments and other climate policies in his effort to strike an infrastructure deal with congressional Republicans, many of whom continue to deny the scientific reality of human-caused planetary heating.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that "in multiple rounds of talks, Republican lawmakers have held firm in opposition against key White House plans to address the changing climate, add $400 billion in funding for elder care, and a slew of other domestic priorities the administration is pushing for families and children."

"This right here is how White House loses the majority, gives up on progress, forfeits the midterms, and abandons all hope and change." 
—Drew Hudson, Friends of the Earth Action

"A second bipartisan group of lawmakers, meanwhile, is readying its own backup plan that is also likely to jettison some key climate and elder-care policies pushed by the White House," the Post continued. "If centrists in both parties strike a deal, Biden probably would be forced to choose between accepting a compromise that leaves out these proposals, or rejecting a bipartisan infrastructure deal aides have long sought as a political triumph."

Likely left on the cutting room floor under such a scenario, according to the Post's Jeff Stein, would be Biden's proposals to end federal fossil fuel subsidies, fund the retrofitting of buildings and homes, establish hundreds of thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations, bolster the aging U.S. electric grid, and invest in climate resilience.

Progressive activists were quick to argue that abandoning such commitments in the interest of reaching a deal with the GOP would be both politically disastrous and damaging to the fight against the global climate crisis, which Biden has dubbed an "existential threat" that requires immediate and bold action.

"This right here is how the White House loses the majority, gives up on progress, forfeits the midterms, and abandons all hope and change," said Drew Hudson, an organizer with Friends of the Earth Action.

Evan Weber, political director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, pointed to a survey conducted just prior to the 2020 election showing that Democratic voters view climate change as the "most important" issue.

Led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)—an ally of the fossil fuel industry—Republicans are set Thursday to send the White House an infrastructure counteroffer that is expected to confirm the GOP's opposition to including key climate plans in the package. The Republican proposal is likely to be around $1 trillion in size, down from the roughly $2.2 trillion in spending Biden proposed in the initial version of his American Jobs Plan.

"Our future depends on immediate and aggressive climate action," tweeted NextGen America, a climate-focused advocacy organization. "We again urge the president to move ahead with the original American Jobs Plan. We can't afford to wait on science-denying Republicans."

"Republicans aren't going to vote for this bill in any form... Why are Dems trying to give up what could be our last and only chance to go big on climate?"
—Devyn Powell, Evergreen Action

Imploring Democrats to use their control of Congress and the White House to press ahead on infrastructure and climate, Devyn Powell of Evergreen Action argued that "Republicans aren't going to vote for this bill in any form" and are not "negotiating in good faith."

"Why are Dems trying to give up what could be our last and only chance to go big on climate?" Powell asked. "What is wrong with you?"

The Post reported Wednesday that some top Democrats believe they will be able to "come back after the bipartisan deal and pass an additional package with the remaining priorities" left out of the infrastructure package. But one unnamed White House adviser warned that is a risky strategy given time constraints, Democrats' vanishingly narrow majority, and other factors.

"They're going to try to sell us on the idea that they'll do the leftovers as part of a bigger package, but the truth is that there's an enormous amount of speculation and nobody really knows what they'll be able to do," the adviser said.

Duncan Meisel, campaign director at Clean Creatives, noted on Twitter that "Democrats were elected on a wave of energy from young people demanding climate action."

"If Democrats decide that climate priorities can be put off for later," Meisel added, "don't be surprised if young people put off voting for them again."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

ACLU Demands 'Truly Systemic Overhaul' of US Civilian Harm Policies

"While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it's unclear that this directive will be enough," says director of the legal group's National Security Project.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is Not Over': Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Finds 'Staggering' Rise in Voter Suppression After GOP Restrictions in Georgia

"This is why we are fighting this new law in court," said one voting rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Egregious': Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Mail-In Voting Law

The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the state's Supreme Court and as one voting advocate put it: "The fight's not over yet, folks."

Julia Conley ·


Big Win for Open Internet as Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo