Jun 23, 2022
President Joe Biden's attempt to address the climate emergency through executive action received a potential boost this week from Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri and other Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.
Thanks to what The Interceptdescribed as a "last-minute, behind-the-scenes effort by Bush," the fiscal year 2023 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies spending bill includes $100 million for the domestic manufacturing of clean energy. If approved, the new funding would give the president resources to accelerate the production of solar panels, heat pumps, and other green technologies.
As Republicans and corporate Democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) continue to obstruct Biden's legislative agenda, progressive lawmakers have urged the White House to use its executive authority to the fullest possible extent to slash greenhouse gas pollution and deliver for working people. Earlier this month, Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), which enables the president to reorient U.S. manufacturing policy, to strengthen the domestic production of clean energy.
Senators from both major parties, including Manchin and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), "have also called on Biden to use the DPA to support green technology manufacturing," The Intercept reported Wednesday, "making passage into law, once the appropriations bill passes the House and is amended in the Senate, more likely."
"The new funding would strengthen the effectiveness of Biden's action and bolster precedent for using executive authority to fight the climate crisis," the news outlet noted. "The text of the provision gives Biden wide latitude in deciding how exactly to use the funds in support of those technologies, as is standard for policy created through the DPA."
"I am thrilled at the inclusion of $100 million in funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy through the Defense Production Act," Bush said Wednesday in a statement. "The DPA is one of the most important tools we have to take on high gas prices and the climate crisis at the same time."
"While fossil fuel CEOs continue to rake in outrageous profits and Russia's violent war on Ukraine continues, predominantly Black and brown communities like mine in St. Louis have been forced to the brink financially," the Missouri Democrat continued. "To protect all of our communities, particularly those with the greatest need, we must take robust measures to transition to renewable energy and lower prices as quickly as possible. This funding helps us achieve that."
The Sunrise Movement, meanwhile, tweeted: "This is a major win for communities demanding an end to fossil fuels. But we need to do more. We can fight back against the climate crisis only if President Biden takes even more executive action to protect our communities and the planet."
In a statement, the group's executive director Varshini Prakash said that "this moment calls for nothing less than a WWII-scale mobilization to justly transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030."
Funding for Biden's clean energy DPA order may not have materialized without Bush's leadership, as The Intercept reported:
While House leadership and the White House have been broadly supportive of the provision, Biden's latest invocation of the DPA left members of the House Appropriations Committee with little time to account for the new policy in ongoing negotiations. After individual Appropriations subcommittees receive their top-line figures, which in this case roughly coincided with Biden's announcement at the beginning of June, it is difficult to secure funding for new priorities. By coordinating discussions among the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's [D-Calif.] office, and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Bush--a first-term representative--exerted a rare amount of influence over a process that is usually guided by senior members of the caucus.
In a press release marking the subcommittee's release of the draft bill, Kaptur touted the inclusion of the DPA funding, indicating that Bush's efforts have significant buy-in from key players in the appropriations process. "From unleashing energy innovation and utilizing the Defense Production Act to boost domestic manufacturing, to responsibly managing water resources and tackling the crisis of climate change--this Energy and Water bill delivers for America's needs in the 21st century," Kaptur said.
Bush, for her part, said that this "vital funding is in line with" the Energy Security and Independence Act that she introduced in April alongside Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
"Advancing it through a committee markup," the progressive lawmaker pointed out, "is a necessary step in our efforts to foster communities that are truly energy secure."
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