By Dr Seema Javed
2021 has proved to be a tumultuous and potentially consequential year for climate action in the US. The Biden administration’s cornerstone policy effort, the $1.75Trillion, Build Back Better Act, has been blocked by Republicans. Lawmakers in Washington DC had worked feverishly on a massive fiscal plan, of more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal and a $1.75 trillion package of social spending and tax breaks to lower- and middle-income households.
The Act, as proposed, would have cut up to a gigaton of carbon emissions, created over 2 million jobs, and provided a range of social support, such as paid family and paid medical leave. Since the effort was blocked by one moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, the West Virginia community members have expressed disappointment in their Senator’s stance, and even coal miners have urged Senator Joe Manchin to reconsider. In the meantime, as part of a two-track process managed by congressional leaders, the Democrats in the Senate and House approved in August a ten-year budget resolution authorising up to $3.5 trillion in investments in an attempt to address an array of challenges, including tackling child poverty, expanding healthcare coverage, improving education quality and access, and slashing GHG emissions.
There is still hope, and Manchin and the White House are having discussions on how to change the legislation so that it could move forward. We could see a new proposal in early 2022, and this is more likely with additional pressure from groups in West Virginia and the mineworkers association. Senator Manchin wants the White House to focus on rolling back the 2017 Trump tax cuts.
The author is an environmentalist, senior journalist and climate change strategic communicator.