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Americans scramble for billions for climate protection

For several weeks now, the US government has been negotiating a massive investment program that would also provide a lot of money for climate protection. Whether an agreement will be reached, however, is currently written in the stars with headwind for President Biden coming primarily from his own Democratic Party.

The Capitol in Washington is the seat of the U.S. Congress (Image: Pixabay)The Capitol in Washington is the seat of the U.S. Congress (Image: Pixabay)

3.5 trillion dollars - that was the original sum President Joe Biden's administration had planned to invest to comprehensively modernize the US. But whether the package will be passed in this form is currently anything but certain.

While the initial problem was whether an agreement could be reached with the Republicans, internal disputes among the governing Democrats have now been added to the mix. "If any member of Congress is not concerned that this could fall apart, they need treatment," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). told Politico in drastic terms. At the same time, he warned his party would be punished in the next election for not implementing the president's agenda.

It is above all the billions of dollars in investments envisaged in the package for climate protection that are causing trouble: the focus here is on Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, who is chairman of the Senate's Energy Committee. He recently told CNN, that the amount he would support is "going to be at 1 [or] 1.5 [trillion]. It’s not going to be 3.5, I can assure you." With inflation on the rise, he even called for a pause in negotiations around the big spending bill.

He also just killed a years-long push by his party to pass a comprehensive immigration reform, and now he's threatening to pull out on climate protection as well. Background: The Democrat has close ties to the coal industry in his home state and has had much of his campaign financed by it. The state is traditionally one of the poorest in the US, after the once booming coal mining industry has come under increasing pressure in recent years.

In the past, Manchin attracted attention for a dubious campaign ad in which he cut holes in then-President Obama's climate plan. Since then, he has admittedly revised his public opinion and conceded that humans are responsible for the rise in global temperatures. Still, Manchin and his more moderate Senate colleague, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, appear to be pushing for a smaller bill, only $1 trillion or two.

West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin's state, is primarily rural. (Image: Pixabay)

The problem here is that Democrats in the Senate rely on every vote from their party to pass legislation, as the split in that chamber between Democrats and Republicans is 50-50 - where Vice President Harris could then tip the scales in favor of the Democrats.

The problems in the party come at an inopportune time for Democrats and the president, who needs a legislative victory amid declining approval ratings. Although polls show that much of his legislative package is popular with the public, that apparently hasn't sunk in with all politicians.

Energy Minister Jennifer Granholm herself has now joined the fray. She has made direct contact with Manchin and even traveled to West Virginia to lobby for his approval of the package. However, her latest words to Yahoo Finance still sounded vague: "We'll see how it shakes out in negotiations."

Katrin Radtke
USA, Joe Biden, climate protection, Joe Manchin, West Virginia, renewables, campaign, coal, state, energy, investment, Democrats

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