The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ellen Sciales,

Sunrise Movement Responds to Biden's Infrastructure Plan: It's a Start, Demands Stronger Package and Quick Passage to Tackle Full Scale of Climate Crisis

Today, following news of Biden's infrastructure plan, Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of Sunrise Movement, released the following statement:


Today, following news of Biden's infrastructure plan, Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of Sunrise Movement, released the following statement:

"Today I find myself caught between two truths, and I bet a lot of other young people who have been out there over the past few years striking and demanding at the top of their lungs a transformative Green New Deal feel the same way--this infrastructure plan is a historic step forward that would not have been possible without us, and so much more is needed to reach the scale of what is necessary to truly transform this country to stop the climate crisis.

"Though it won't solve the climate crisis on its own, if we fight to make it stronger and pass it into law, President Biden's infrastructure package can be step one in our fight for a Green New Deal. Thanks to the activists, young people, and people of color who fought like hell to get Biden elected on a climate mandate, Biden has finally heard us and is speaking our language. The framing of this package is our framing; the priorities are our priorities. But I feel deeply aware of how much more power we must build to fully realize our vision of a Green New Deal.

"There are a lot wins for us in this package: the funding of a Civilian Climate Corps, the commitment to the creation of good union jobs and the passage of the PRO Act, finally delivering 100% universal clean water in the United States of America, an energy efficiency and clean energy standard to decarbonize our power sector and incentivize mass deployment of renewable energy, deep equity and justice investments in disadvantaged communities, and more. Despite those wins, the plan lacks a commitment to the full scale of transformation that is needed of our economy.

"The priorities and approach are right--this contains the frameworks of the Green New Deal--but as of now this plan could only be considered a beginning of that truly transformative vision. But we've always said that the Green New Deal wouldn't be just one bill, and the only thing worse than not meeting this moment at scale, would be not meeting it at all.

"So here's the deal: We will continue to push and build power towards deploying at least $1 trillion/year over the next decade to transform this economy and to push Biden to live up to his own campaign promises to deploy these investments as fast as possible during his first term. Our movement is prepared to agitate and shift the ground under politicians' feet to ensure Congress strengthens this package to get it closer to the scale and scope our country and our planet demands. But we need President Biden to do more, too.

"Biden has said he wants to have a 'Rooseveltian Presidency' and that tackling climate change would be his Presidency's top priority. At the peak of the war effort, America spent 40% of our GDP in one year -- equivalent to $8.5 trillion in 2021 alone. TThe task of transforming our economy and rescuing our planet from the brink of collapse are just as existential to our country now as the war effort was then. Roosevelt's original CCC employed around 300,000 young Americans per year at a time when the US population was ~40% what it is now. $10 billion for Biden's CCC over the decade could probably only put only about 10-20,000 Americans to work a year. If Biden wants to truly have a Rooseveltian Presidency, he will need to use his bully pulpit to build the political will for a more transformative vision, like FDR famously did. Biden must tell the truth about the scale of the climate crisis -- as he's done with the COVID crisis -- and work to rally the political will to truly lead the world in stopping it.

"We're up against a lot -- a GOP that won't even vote for Covid Relief, fossil fuel executives more interested in profit than people, and an urgent climate emergency that's worsening with every passing day. At the end of the day, whatever happens, we must ensure that we pass something, as soon as possible, so that the transformation can begin, and we can create the political capital for more victories along the Decade of the Green New Deal. We cannot miss this moment. Congress must strengthen this plan and Biden must pass it into law as quickly as possible. If Republicans don't cooperate, do it without them. If the filibuster obstructs progress, abolish it. Money needs to go out the door and flow into communities now."

According to Sunrise, the Biden administration did not meet the scale of the crisis on: housing - the plan only upgrades two million homes out of around 140 million housing units in America; research and development, which was downsized from Biden's campaign promise of $300 billion to $180 billion; the Civilian Climate Corps investment, which would field around 10-20,000 jobs per year, versus the FDR version, which employed around 300,000 people per year; and investment in transit, which is significantly less than what's been proposed in Schumer's Clean Cars Act and Warren and Markey's BUILD Green Act.

Additionally, this plan neglects the urgency of this moment, even by Biden's own standards. In his presidential bid, Biden called for a $2 trillion 'accelerated investment' over four years. This plan invests that number over ten years. Biden has the opportunity to improve that by demonstrating commitment to deploy investments as fast as possible.

Despite this, Sunrise is pushing for the plan's strengthening and passage, emphasizing that they expect more than just one bill to realize the vision of a Green New Deal. Sunrise expects the next package announced in the coming weeks to be robust and include additional provisions that are even more responsive to the scale and urgency of our economic crises, as well as what science and justice demand.

Sunrise Movement is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.