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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference with then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the U.S. Capitol on January 25, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference with then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the U.S. Capitol on January 25, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

200+ Hill Staffers Urge Pelosi and Schumer to End 'Dangerous Inaction' on Climate

"We refuse to remain silent until bold investments are made," said a Green New Deal organizer from Rep. Cori Bush's office.

Kenny Stancil

More than 200 congressional staffers have urged the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate to finalize a reconciliation package that includes robust measures to tackle the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency before the August recess.

"If we are already witnessing the consequences of inaction in your lifetime, we can scarcely imagine what we will face in ours."

"We've crafted the legislation necessary to avert climate catastrophe," the staffers wrote in a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday night. "It's time for you to pass it." The letter, signed anonymously with initials, was first shared with CNN.

"Our country is nearing the end of a two-year window that represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass transformative climate policy," the letter continues. "The silence on expansive climate justice policy on Capitol Hill this year has been deafening. We write to distance ourselves from your dangerous inaction."

The rare staff-authored letter criticizing party leadership and calling for specific legislation comes as Schumer conducts last-ditch negotiations with right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) on a scaled-back economic package that can be passed without Republican votes through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process.

Manchin rewarded his corporate donors last year by siding with the GOP to tank the more wide-ranging Build Back Better Act, but he has recently endorsed the idea of a narrow bill aimed at reducing the surging cost of living, specifically backing a proposal that would enable Medicare to negotiate lower prices for certain prescription drugs.

When it comes to climate action, however, Manchin remains an obstacle. The long-time coal profiteer continues to insist—erroneously, according to experts—that easing pain at the pump requires further expanding domestic fossil fuel production.

While the White House has offered to approve some oil and gas projects in exchange for Manchin's support on a reconciliation bill that includes significant funding for renewable energy, such a deal remains elusive because Biden administration officials are wary of authorizing more drilling and pipelines before a vote is held, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. Last year, Manchin reneged on his promise to support the Build Back Better Act after a fossil fuel-friendly infrastructure bill that he helped author was signed into law.

For Democratic congressional staffers, there is no time to waste. The letter, which was initiated on Monday and by Tuesday had spread to dozens of House and Senate offices, "is extremely popular with congressional staff," Saul Levin, a Green New Deal organizer in Rep. Cori Bush's (D-Mo.) office, told CNN.

"This rose up out of staffers' frustration," said Levin, coordinator of the Congressional Progressive Staff Association Climate Working Group. "A lot of people have worked on this bill for years, since before [President] Joe Biden was elected. [The letter] represents immense frustration of people who are really close to power and did our job. How can we go home and tell our families we did our job this whole time and there's no climate policy?"

The staffers, many of whom are young, stressed in their letter that the consequences of failure are planetary and deadly—echoing the oft-repeated message of climate scientists as well as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who has warned that the world's fossil fuel addiction is "suicidal" and "mutually assured destruction."

"If we are already witnessing the consequences of inaction in your lifetime," the staffers wrote, "we can scarcely imagine what we will face in ours."


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