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House Democrats Unite in Urging Biden to Keep Climate Goals in Infrastructure

The letter, signed by more than 130 House Democrats, asks Biden to maintain climate goals he set earlier this year.

President Joe Biden arrives at day 2 of the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate at the East Room of the White House on April 23, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Dozens of Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives signed a letter addressed to President Joe Biden this week, which reminds him that any eventual infrastructure deal struck between him and a group of bipartisan lawmakers should not lose sight of the ambitious plans for addressing environmental and climate change that were laid out in the early stages of the plan.

The letter, containing the signatures of more than 130 lawmakers, was organized and pushed by Rep. Mike Levin (D-California). Its signers include Democrats from a broad array of political beliefs, from centrists like Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) to the Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington).

The letter “demonstrates that we understand as the House Democratic caucus that we have to take the types of bold action necessary to actually deal with the climate crisis in a manner that is commensurate with the science,” Levin said.

Biden has, in recent weeks, attempted to reach a deal with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on infrastructure. In doing so, many of the environmental pledges he made in his original pitch for the American Jobs Plan have been removed. The bipartisan plan, for example, takes out a proposal to make electricity on the nation’s power grids carbon-free by 2035, and also strikes out the president’s plan for establishing a Civilian Climate Corps.

The Biden administration has said it’s still committed to follow-up on these goals in the future, but critics say that the infrastructure bill is an opportunity that cannot be wasted.

“This is a historic, narrow opportunity to combat the climate crisis, and we can’t afford to kick the can down the road any further,” the Sunrise Movement’s Lauren Maunus said. “When Democrats agree to water it down more, they’re condemning Americans to untold devastation.”

The letter from the Democratic lawmakers agrees, and asks Biden to join them in living “up to our promise to put millions back to work while rebuilding our infrastructure, expanding access to health care, and improving our nation’s environmental resiliency.”

In the letter, the lawmakers say they wish to “strongly underscore our support for” several aspects of Biden’s original American Jobs Plan proposed earlier this year, which they want to see returned to the compromise infrastructure plan. Chief among them, a pledge for carbon-free energy by 2035, as well as a promise to deliver on a “basic right of clean water,” including the cleaning up of polluted water and the replacement of lead pipes and service lines across all of the U.S.

“We are eager to help advance through Congress a strong American Jobs Plan that employs our communities and matches the scale of the challenge climate science tells us we face,” the letter concludes. “Ultimately, we urge you and our colleagues to act with the goal of ensuring the final legislative package gets across the finish line in the coming months while maintaining our key jobs and climate goals.”

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