If there is going to be an infrastructure “new deal” in the U.S. Congress it is going to have to be a green one. Already newly-elected Democrats are proposing the idea of a “Green New Deal” as one of the top priorities for the new Congress after it convenes in January.
And now, in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, has sent a message to the White House: there will be no infrastructure deal in Congress that does not address climate change.
And addressing climate change is a very popular idea, both among the American people and within the scientific community. The new leading spokeswoman for progressives is Alexendria Ocasio-Cortez from New York. She has started a “Green New Deal” caucus in the House even though she won’t be seated until January.
To support her position she tweeted:
“A Green New Deal will actually help the economy by stimulating productivity, job growth and consumer spending.” Former Chief Economist for the Senate, @StephanieKelton
“A Green New Deal will actually help the economy by stimulating productivity, job growth and consumer spending.”
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 30, 2018
And now the most powerful Democrat in the Senate has joined the movement. In the Post Schumer wrote:
“Now that Democrats will soon control one branch of Congress, President Trump is again signaling that infrastructure could be an area of compromise. We agree, but if the president wanted to earn Democratic support in the Senate, any infrastructure bill would have to include policies and funding that help transition our country to a clean-energy economy and mitigate the risks the United States already faces from climate change.”
Since Schumer is often thought of as a mainstream “establishment” Democrat who takes corporate money, this is a big step for him. It will help endear him to the progressives, and further unify the Democratic Party.
Some of Schumer’s words will warm the hearts of every Democrat, as he lambasted the current president:
“While notable progress was made during the Obama administration to stimulate renewable-energy technology and fashion international agreements to reduce carbon emissions, the Trump administration has shamefully undone much of that progress and appears unwilling to take any new steps to combat climate change. Worst of all, the administration is pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord, giving a green light to countries such as China and India to increase carbon emissions by unacceptable amounts.”
Schumer also points out that nothing will get done in Congress without the support of Senate Democrats, which means him. If Trump wants any legislation to reach his desk for signature then Senate Republicans will have to compromise:
“Not only will House Democrats have the power to propose, debate and pass progressive legislation on the subject, but Senate Democrats will have substantial leverage as well. For any legislation to pass the Senate, 60 votes are required.”
There is no question that Donald Trump will try to make himself look good by getting Congress to pass a popular bill such as infrastructure funding. He needs something positive to run on in 2020 (if he is still in office by that time).
And now Chuck Schumer has drawn a line in the sand: If Trump wants to look good, he has to change his tune on climate change. He has to become a believer instead of a climate change denier. And he will have to compromise with both Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, no matter how much it will be painful for him to do so.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.