Green New Deal Democrats change tune on Joe Manchin after $433 billion climate, inflation bill

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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who for months took heat from progressive Democrats for tanking the Build Back Better agenda, is now being praised by Democrats who demand expansive climate change legislation.

Manchin on Wednesday announced an agreement on a reconciliation package that makes large investments in green energy production and health care while raising funds through additional corporate taxes and stricter IRS enforcement. According to Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Inflation Reduction Act would raise $739 billion, investing $433 billion in climate initiatives — claiming it will reduce carbon pollution roughly 40% by 2030 — and prescription drug programs while also reducing the deficit.

After spending months blasting Manchin for holding the Build Back Better agenda and climate action hostage, many left-wing Democrats have praised Manchin’s bill as the largest climate initiative ever. 

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a member of “the Squad” who said in June that Manchin should not be allowed to chair the Senate Energy Committee, tweeted Schumer’s announcement of the deal with a simple approbation: “Love to see it.”

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Green New Deal Democrats change tune on Joe Manchin after $433 billion climate, inflation bill

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., attends a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 19, 2022.
(REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo)

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who describes himself as a climate hawk, praised the bill as “the biggest climate action in human history.”

“$370B for investments in clean energy, clean transportation, energy storage, farming, home electrification, and clean tech. The planet is on fire. Let’s get it done,” Schatz tweeted.

The bill includes investments to “decarbonize the economy” through things like tax credits for green energy manufacturing and electric trucks and buses, as well as rebate programs for domestic renewable energy use. The bill also includes $60 billion for “environmental justice priorities” like block grants “to address disproportionate environmental and public health harms related to pollution and climate change.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., one of the leading progressive voices in Congress who said Manchin was not a real Democrat and that he “betrayed” President Biden by torpedoing the Build Back Better agenda last December, quickly came out supporting Manchin’s latest bill.

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“Every single one of the things that’s in this bill is actually a major accomplishment, will help Americans bring costs down, will ensure we’re protecting the planet for the next generation, and will ensure that people’s healthcare is covered instead of being cut off in the next 30 days,” she said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“While there is a lot that was left on the cutting room floor, the reality is this would be a massive accomplishment, and it would help the American people,” Jayapal said, adding that she was grateful Manchin had come around.

“Am I happy that Joe Manchin is at the table right now? Absolutely. Welcome in, Joe Manchin, delighted to work with you,” she said.

Even Sunrise Movement, a firebrand activism group that has sponsored numerous climate demonstrations against Republicans and Democrats, urged Congress to pass the bill immediately, while at the same time criticizing Manchin for profiting from fossil fuels and holding “life-saving climate legislation hostage.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a Green New Deal proponent, also praised the bill as a significant climate action. 

“As we work to finalize this legislation, I’m proud this draft includes my provisions on environmental justice mapping, billions in funding to create a national climate bank that prioritizes disadvantaged communities, and incentives for domestic clean energy like offshore wind,” he said in a tweet.

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Markey also encouraged climate activists to support the measure, despite not having everything environmentalists wanted. 

“My message to our young climate activists who have fought relentlessly for a livable future is that when we work together, when we refuse to back down, we win. This package may not be everything that we want, but it’s the start that we need,” he said.

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