Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Activists with the Sunrise Movement march to the White House

Hundreds of young climate activists march along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House on June 28, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

200+ Groups to Democrats: $6 Trillion 'Should Be the Floor' for Climate and Infrastructure Bill

"Over a ten-year period, it represents just over 1% of the U.S. GDP and less than half of Pentagon spending given current trends."

Jake Johnson

A coalition of more than 200 progressive advocacy organizations and think tanks released a joint statement Wednesday arguing that $6 trillion in spending "should be the floor, not the ceiling" of Democratic lawmakers' ambitions as they craft a legislative package aimed at combating the climate crisis, rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, and repairing the tattered safety net.

"The recent bipartisan framework announced by the White House is insufficient to meet these challenges and must not advance on its own," reads the new statement, referring to the $579 billion infrastructure plan that President Joe Biden touted last week, flanked by Republicans and conservative Democrats. "Congress must seize the historic opportunity in the FY2022 budget resolution to build on the Biden Administration’s proposals and set the stage for a bold reconciliation package."

Led by the Progressive Caucus Action Fund, the Economic Policy Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the Poor People's Campaign, the joint statement characterizes the $6 trillion framework proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as the "minimum scale necessary to tackle our nation's most urgent challenges."

"Over a ten-year period, it represents just over 1% of the U.S. GDP and less than half of Pentagon spending given current trends," the groups note. "The proposal is reported to improve on the Biden administration's proposals by allowing Congress to expand Medicare, a policy supported by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Senator Sanders also proposes increased funding to address climate change and provides a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants."

Specifically, the statement calls on Congress to prioritize:

  • $1.1 trillion in investments in public investments in clean energy and "hundreds of billions of dollars more to expand and electrify public transit and retrofit our schools and homes";
  • Improving and making permanent the American Rescue Plan's expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which as currently designed could leave out millions of poor families;
  • Implementing a national, universal paid leave program;
  • Closing the Medicaid coverage gap;
  • Slashing prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices; and
  • Hiking taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.

"Right now, too many families continue to struggle to balance child care, family, and work, and millions struggle just to make ends meet, all while the ultra-wealthy continue to reap billions without paying their fair share," the statement reads. "Communities across the country are demanding a budget resolution that meets the scope and scale of this moment."

The groups' call comes as Democratic lawmakers are in the early stages of assembling legislation that they hope to pass alongside the bipartisan infrastructure package using an arcane process known as budget reconciliation, through which bills can pass with just a simple-majority vote.

With large swaths of the United States in the grips of a record-shattering and deadly heatwave, progressive lawmakers are demanding a reconciliation package that focuses heavily on confronting the threat posed by the climate crisis.

"Look at what is happening in the Pacific Northwest right now," Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said earlier this week. "If we do not significantly invest in transforming our energy system, future generations will never forgive us."

But progressives raised alarm Wednesday after a leaked memo indicated that the White House is focused more on what one critic described as "technocratic," market-driven tweaks than the kinds of sweeping public investments that Sanders, Democratic lawmakers, and grassroots organizations are advocating.

The White House memo, authored by climate adviser Gina McCarthy and senior adviser Anita Dunn, lists as administration priorities "tax cuts for businesses and consumers who invest in clean energy technologies" and "sending a market signal that brings additional private investment off the sidelines and into modernizing our electric grid through an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard."

Mitch Jones, policy director at Food & Water Watch, said in a statement that the memo "should be seen for what it is: little to nothing of substance."

"Instead of explicitly supporting a bonafide standard for clean, renewable energy, McCarthy's memo touts ''market signals' and the leveraging of deeply flawed existing energy systems," Jones added. "If the White House wants us to believe it is taking the climate crisis seriously, this memo does the opposite."

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.

Critics Warn Biden 'Summit for Democracy' Will Highlight Democrats' Failures at Home

"President Biden can't champion democracy across the globe without fulfilling his promise to protect our voting rights at home."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Like a Teenager Promising to Clean Their Room in 30 Years': Biden Net-Zero Climate Goal for 2050 Ridiculed

"2050 is an extremely weak goal for the federal government to free itself from climate-heating pollution. It ignores existing technology and adds decades to GSA's own commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2025."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biden Should Cancel Student Debt or Watch $85 Billion Evaporate From US Economy: Analysis

Far-reaching cancellation enacted by Biden could add more than $173 billion to the nation's GDP in 2022 alone.

Kenny Stancil ·

Given Cover by Red-Baiting GOP, Corporate Dems Rebuked for Tanking Biden Nominee for Top Bank Regulator

"If you think that Senate Democrats rose up to [Republicans'] shameful display of modern McCarthyism by rallying around President Biden's nominee or her ideas that banking should work for the middle class, then you don't know the soul of today's Democratic Party," wrote one columnist.

Julia Conley ·

'S.O.S.!': Groups in Red States Nationwide Plead With Democrats to Pass Voting Rights Bill

"We can tell you firsthand that our Republican senators have no interest in joining this effort."

Jake Johnson ·

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