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Climate proposals in Democrats’ budget deal “disturbing”: Manchin

▶ Watch Video: Biden urges Democrats to back $3.5 trillion budget plan as Child Tax Credit payments roll out

After meeting Wednesday with President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, swing-vote West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin couldn’t say if he would support his party’s $3.5 trillion budget outline

Manchin said he was “very, very disturbed” by proposed climate provisions in the plan that aim to sharply reduce the use of fossil fuels. 

“If they’re eliminating fossils, and I’m finding out there’s a lot of language in places they’re eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you’re sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil (fuel) has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that’s going to clean up the global climate, it won’t clean it up all. If anything, it would be worse,” Manchin told CNN.

The proposal focuses on “human” infrastructure: combating climate change, growing Medicare and funding the child tax credit expansion. Without all 50 Democrats’ support, the proposal likely will not pass. 

The outline is aligned with the White House’s climate goals of cutting carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. It also aims to run the country’s grid off 80% clean electricity over the same period by imposing a clean energy standard and creating a Civilian Climate Corps, among other measures.

As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin has long maintained that the U.S. can combat climate change without completely phasing out use of fossil fuels — a point of view more similar to some of his Republican colleagues. 

He told reporters after the meeting with Biden on Wednesday he was not supportive of “eliminating anything.” 

“I’m going to evaluate everything they put forward. I’m not going to say what I support or what I don’t support,” he said.

Progressives, led by Budget Committee Chairman Senator Bernie Sanders, are touting the plan’s climate goals. 

The group is pushing the climate agenda through via budget reconciliation in part because they are unsatisfied with the White House’s ongoing bipartisan negotiations on infrastructure. The new proposal though is significantly slimmer than the $10 trillion Green New Deal progressives support. 

Manchin also said he was worried about the spending plan’s effect on inflation. 

“I want to make sure that the priorities that we have is what we need in our country, and the chance to look at that in detail,” he said. “I want to make sure that the amount that they think that needs to be invested is paid for. And if we pay for it, how are we paying.”


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