By Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, IPL Federal Policy Associate
In person advocacy is returning to DC!
On June 9th, Interfaith Power & Light and partners gathered with 100 faith leaders at the Capitol to show support for 100% clean electricity by 2035, as part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. (More here!) That plan has been at the center of 3 months of negotiations in Congress on an infrastructure and climate bill that looks ready to reshape our country’s roads, bridges, electricity, and climate response for decades to come. This moment is truly a generational opportunity.
Across the country, over 3,400 more faith leaders showed their support through an open letter to Congress, calling for a strong climate and infrastructure package that cares for the communities most harmed by our current fossil fuel infrastructure.
The quick version:
Congress is gearing up to write and pass two infrastructure bills—one that is small, has very little for the climate, and is bipartisan, and another that is larger, climate focused, and likely to only be supported by Democrats.
The longer version:
Since unveiling the American Jobs Plan at the end of March, President Biden and Democrats in the Senate have been negotiating with Republican senators in hopes of finding an infrastructure package that at least 10 Republicans would support. That’s how many GOP senators it would take to overcome the filibuster, a Senate procedural rule requiring most legislation to receive 60 votes to pass.
However, it isn’t the only way to pass a bill in the Senate. Packages that deal mostly with spending (like this one) can be passed with a simple majority vote through a process called budget reconciliation. Yet several moderate Democrats have insisted the reconciliation process only be used as a last resort.
On June 24th, the White House reached a tentative deal on an infrastructure bill with a group of bipartisan senators. We’re deeply concerned that the deal looks to have very little for clean energy, climate, and environmental justice.
However, we’re encouraged that President Biden and Speaker Pelosi both put out statements saying that they would only support this bill in tandem with a budget reconciliation bill that covers climate priorities. Congress is now turning to the task of writing and passing two bills—one that is small, has very little for the climate, and is bipartisan, and another that is larger, climate focused, and likely to only be supported by Democrats.
What can you do?
Talk to your senators, and let them know that an infrastructure plan must include climate action to have your support. It’s a message every senator needs to be hearing right now. Use this link to call and remind them that climate as a part of infrastructure action is:
-A moral imperative! Our communities depend on our elected leaders to address the climate crisis and act for environmental justice. Caring for the climate is a form of caring for our neighbors.
Speaking after the faith leaders event at the Capitol, IPL’s President Rev. Susan Hendershot told a reporter, “”Proverbs 29:18 says, ‘Without a vision the people perish,’… We know that without a vision the people perish, and without action to bring that vision to life, all that we hold most precious and sacred will perish.”
-A factual imperative! Our current infrastructure is crumbling in part because it wasn’t built to withstand a changing climate. From winter superstorms causing power outages in Texas, to hurricanes flooding cities and sewer systems in the Southeast, to wildfires forcing blackouts in the West, our infrastructure must be updated to deal with the changes we’re already seeing. It would be foolish to miss this chance to also address the root causes of those climate disruptions.
You can see our full faith, climate, and infrastructure fact sheet here. Our top priorities include:
-Expanding clean, renewable energy sources and passing a Clean Energy Standard to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035
-40% of funds being spent in the communities hurt the most by our current polluting economy
-Electrifying transportation and expanding public transit
For the People Act (H.R. 1 / S. 1)
This important voting rights legislation (see fact sheet here) passed the House earlier this year. It had stalled in the Senate, but it gained new life this week with a compromise measure from Sen. Manchin that includes many of the essential pieces of the bill.
This new version now looks to have support of a majority of senators, but still can’t pass because of the filibuster. We continue to call on the Senate to do what is right for our democracy and pass this essential legislation with a simple majority vote.