This past week, Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) led 134 members of Congress from across the Democratic caucus in a letter to President Biden that pushed for bold climate action. Reps. Andy Kim (D-NJ) and Sharice Davids (D-KS) joined Levin in co-leading the letter, calling for equity-focused climate initiatives as a part of the American Jobs Plan. The letter highlights some key pieces of what must be included in any transformational climate package — namely a clean energy standard, electric vehicle investment and tax credits, the right to clean water, environmental justice provisions, and the creation of good-paying union jobs in the energy sector.
The ideological diversity among the signers on Rep. Levin’s letter highlights how climate is a unifying issue among the Democratic party, garnering support from members ranging from Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), and 17 Frontline Members, including the letter-leads Reps. Levin, Kim, and Davids. The timing of the letter also coincided with statements from numerous members of Congress that they would not vote for infrastructure legislation that did not prioritize tackling the climate crisis, or as eloquently stated by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), “No climate, no deal.” The strong support for this letter among House Democrats shows that no matter what bills end up passing this Congress, any infrastructure plan must center investments in clean energy and good-paying jobs.
Despite the party polarization in Congress, the American Jobs Plan’s climate initiatives have bipartisan support among the general public. LCV’s recent polling with Data for Progress illustrates that 71% of all likely voters in the U.S. support the plan, with over 60% support in deep red Congressional districts. The individual policies in the plan also have strong support: the poll shows that 69% of voters support the government using financial incentives to fund clean energy technologies like solar panels and wind turbines while 64% support delivering 40% of the benefits of investments to low-income communities and communities of color, who have disproportionately born the burden of pollution.
Recently, President Biden and a bipartisan group of Senators agreed to an infrastructure plan that will invest in things like roads and bridges; but while this package is a good start, we still need Congress to pass the American Jobs Plan to make truly transformative investments that will address the climate crisis. Critically, the bipartisan deal lacks a Clean Electricity Standard, sufficient funding for electric vehicles, and a clear commitment to deliver 40% of overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities. Between the bipartisan negotiations and the budget reconciliation process, LCV agrees with Rep. Levin that the priority is not which vehicle we use to pass major investments in clean energy, environmental justice initiatives, and good-paying jobs — the priority is to make sure they get passed. The narrow window to tackle the climate crisis is rapidly shrinking; we cannot afford to miss this moment.