Washington Weekly: June 9, 2021

Washington Weekly: June 9, 2021

The Past Week in D.C.

Infrastructure Bill Updates:

  • Last Friday, President Biden rejected the Republicans’ latest offer, which included $50 billion more in spending than their last offer but remained far below his threshold.
  • Energy Secretary Granholm voiced her frustration at the pace of the negotiations, calling it “perplexing” and “frustrating” that a deal has not yet been reached.
  • Yesterday, the President called off negotiations with Republican negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, as the two sides remain far apart. Negotiations will continue amongst a bipartisan group of centrist senators, while senate Democrats will simultaneously begin organizing around the reconciliation process should those talks fail.
  • Of course, reconciliation will only work if all 50 senate Democrats agree on it… As of last Thursday, Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) continued to oppose this route. This claim was far from the only headline Sen. Manchin made this week that upset his Democratic colleagues.

Despite limited travel during the pandemic leading to a rare drop in global greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide accumulation has continued to rise, hitting it’s highest levels since tracking began 63 years ago this past week. Scientists emphasize this number will continue to grow so long as long as we remain reliant on fossil fuels.

Europe’s collection of 5,400 offshore wind turbines make up a growing portion of the Continent’s energy needs. The U.S. and it’s 90,000 miles of shoreline have, but contrast, exactly seven offshore wind turbines. The Biden Administration is looking to drastically increase that number in the coming years, with a goal of having 10 million homes powered by offshore turbines by 2030.

Today, President Biden departed for his first European trip as president. While he will likely enjoy some good will by simply not being Donald Trump, many European allies remain skeptical of America’s ability to once again lead the West after a long 4 years with no U.S. global leadership for the first time since before World War II, and the possibility — with Biden’s age, America’s political division, and the current status of the Republican party — that history could repeat itself in 2024. The President’s job is to convince allies that America is, indeed, back, ready to stand up to Russia and China, and lead on climate, the global economy, and more.

Michigan LCV Analysis: What does this mean for Michigan?

This past Sunday’s edition of the New York Times included an article highlighting the nation’s deep divides, from pandemic rules to climate change, through the lens of two popular Up North cherry farms: King Orchards and Friske’s Family Market. Both Antrim County, Michigan-based farms, which lie a mere 12 miles apart on Route 31, have already made national headlines in the past year in very different ways.

Last fall, the Biden campaign released a climate change ad featuring King Orchards and the three generations of the King family that have run it. In the ad, the family talked about the significant impact that climate change was having on their farm, the fruit they grow, and their entire way of life (which they have done for the past few years as a member of the Great Lakes Business Network). On the other end of the political spectrum, Friske’s Farm Market made news of its own last fall when it sued Governor Whitmer over her mask mandate. More recently, Friske’s hosted a June 5 rally calling for Trump to be reinstated as president.

Since the beginning of the pandemic and throughout election season (and the unfortunate ongoing aftermath), community members from this beautiful part of Michigan have taken sides over where they chose to buy their fruit based on their views related to climate, the pandemic, and the completely unfounded questions of the 2020 election results. These extremes highlight the remarkable polarization in America today.

Political divisions of this scale exist all over the country, on issues related to climate change, election results, and much more. Yet this region provides an interesting example of how small communities that benefit from the same economy, rely on the same land, and know their neighbors well, can nonetheless have such vastly different views.

While extreme divisiveness is not new to our politics, it is beginning to have very real impacts on the American people: case-in-point, the failing negotiations over the American Jobs Plan. President Biden, a savvy political veteran who cut his chops in a less partisan era, has commendably remained committed to the idea of a bipartisan compromise. Some other Democrats do, as well. Yet negotiations have stalled as Republicans have refused to move significantly from their position — driven by far-right members of the party — even as the president has offered considerable concessions in the name of bipartisanship, while risking alienating his own base of progressives in the process.

In the end, two key aspects of the plan that far-right Republicans have consistently and frustratingly failed to endorse are those related to climate change and environmental justice: despite cross-party support from the American public for inclusion of those issues (and for the American Jobs Plan as a whole). It’s far past time for elected leaders to stop their infighting and negotiate an infrastructure deal in good faith that includes investment in the clean energy economy and climate-related infrastructure measures — which 4 out of 5 voters support, according to recent polling. Unfortunately, if those on the far-right continue to dictate terms, passing the bill through reconciliation may be the only way to deliver on critical climate and justice needs that grow more urgent every day, and that a majority of the American people — divided as we are — consistently support.

A Deeper Dive

While a majority of Americans now believe that climate change is real and caused by humans, many don’t know specific facts, evidence, or proof of what is causing climate change and what we can do about it. Let the experts answer your questions here.

Note to Readers: I will be on vacation next week enjoying the aforementioned beauty of northern Michigan with my wife and son. We’ll pick up with more federal climate updates, and how they impact Michigan, on June 23.

Have a great 2 weeks!

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