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March Lobby Days Training on Primary and Supporting Asks

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This training reviews the updates and context for CCL's 2021 Primary and Supporting Asks as well as guidance for lobby teams as they plan their online meetings. 

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March 2021’s Context: Uncertainty is the Name of the Game
  • Something on climate will happen this year
  • That something may happen either through regular order, requiring 60 votes to get past the filibuster, but only 51 to pass. Or, Congress may pass something through reconciliation - a process in which no vote to overcome the filibuster is required, but which is likely to be very partisan and inelegant for policy design.  
  • Either way, climate policy is likely to be included in a larger package, in which many policies are lumped together.
Democrats have not coalesced around a particular policy approach. There are currently three main camps:
  1. Incentives and Subsidies (least controversial, likely to be included regardless, easiest to get bipartisan support)
  2. Regulations and Standards (including a clean energy standard)
  3. Carbon price

Obviously, CCL is pushing for the carbon pricing approach to gain consensus, but we’re not likely to in a Congressional situation where Democrats are voting no on the final package if their favorite is not included. Keep this in mind as we continue to see a lot of different policy ideas introduced in the first part of the year. It’s no guarantee that any of them, a carbon price included, will be included in the final package. At the end of the day, what we want is a policy passed this year that puts us on a path to a zero emissions future. 

Republicans are currently extremely uncomfortable and unclear about what the identity of the party is going to be moving forward. Some want it to be an identity that embraces robust action on climate (February 2021 Republican Climate Summit hosted by Rep. Curtis).

Our Imperatives: What We’re Going To Do About The Context

Our imperatives for March Lobby Days are:

  1. Since it’s not a guarantee that a carbon price will be included, we’re going to do what we can to make sure it’s included. 
  2. Have relevance regardless of whether the future holds a regular order pathway or a reconciliation pathway. If we’re not at the table, then we can’t have a voice pushing things in the direction of a carbon fee and dividend approach we love so much. 
On the first imperative (carbon price included in ultimate Congressional package), there are two pathways:
  1. Convince Democrats that a carbon price is sufficiently popular that they’d be failing to reflect their constituents' will if they don't support it.
  2. Convince a strategic number of Republicans to get on board with a carbon price (at least three in the Senate and ten in the House).
On the second imperative (i.e. having relevance), we’re going to focus on regular order. 
  1. Since reconciliation is almost certain to be so partisan, pushing for regular order is certainly more comfortable for CCL. This begs the question, does pushing for regular order hurt our opportunity to have a voice in the reconciliation process? The answer is no, especially if we are successful in getting Republican support for stand-alone bills. 
  2. So, speaking only about a bill through regular order to your members of congress is a no-regrets strategy. It enables our lobby meetings to meet our second imperative of having a voice in discussions around either a Regular Order Process, or a Reconciliation process. 
The one wrinkle to this is going to be particularly prominent among Democrats, and especially House Democrats. Many of these Democrats may be thinking entirely through the lens of reconciliation. For those Democrats, you may need a justification for why we are trying to move something forward through regular order. There are many strategic reasons for this which you can share in your meetings if this comes up:
  1. Any bipartisan support we get on a regular order bill makes that element of the reconciliation bill less controversial, both this year and into the future (durability).
  2. Any support we get for a regular order carbon price enables us to go bigger on climate in reconciliation.
  3. Any support we get for a regular order bill serves as “discovery," for how different messages play out and what the other side is or is not open to. 
  4. A regular order bill enables businesses to be more specific in their support than they already have been, again increasing the support for a reconciliation bill, and for greater ambition. 
  5. Key elements of a reconciliation bill could be ruled not reconcilable late in the game. This could make it not worthwhile, or at least compromise the effectiveness on the climate of that reconciliation. It's good to have a viable back up.
  6. Remind concerned Democrats that bipartisanship is President Biden’s preference and any success here helps the President.
For Republicans, it's unlikely that your lobby team will have any challenge on the regular order bill. They’re almost certain to be excluded from discussions around a reconciliation bill. In regular order, Republicans are needed. 

Conclusion: Keep your conversations focused on regular order. Point out that any success in getting bipartisan support for a regular order bill makes those provisions, if included in reconciliation, less susceptible to attack even if the final vote is party line. That’s where CCL is focusing.

March 2021 Primary Asks
Meetings With Democratic House Offices
  • Because they’re undecided, we have an opportunity to continue to influence the climate policy discussion.
  • Starting in the House, we want to get as many Democrats as possible on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. While we may have been less enthused about cosponsorship party imbalance in the past, with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, this is not the time to have mixed feelings about a good thing. Pack them onto the bill.
  • With 222 Democrats in the House, CCL's goal is to see more than half (112 Democrats) on the bill when Rep. Deutch reintroduces.
  • We are trying to make the case to Democrats by highlighting the importance of urgency. We like the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act because it’s fast, effective and durable. Here are additional talking points:

Theme

Main Messages

It’s Fast

A carbon fee or tax starts to slash emissions immediately as businesses and consumers plan for the pollution charge. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act enforces accountability after just nine months. No other policy type can deliver comparable emissions accountability faster.

It’s Effective

The economy-wide carbon fee we’re asking you to support covers over 80% of U.S. emissions at a stroke. Compare that with a piecemeal sectoral approach that requires a complex maze of policies for each sector (transportation, electricity, industry and buildings).

It’s Durable

The Trump administration showed clearly how fragile a regulatory approach can be. For durability, Congress must act. Legislation with broad support is required, and a carbon price has the best chance for bipartisan support in Congress.

  • If your member in the House was a cosponsor from last session, ask them to confirm they’re still on the co-sponsor list with the Rep. Deutch office. If so, then ask them to bring a friend to the party. Democrat or Republican, we want to make sure this fast, effective and durable policy is part of Biden’s climate package.
  • To acknowledge Democrats who have a policy preference that is not a carbon price, at the bottom of our Primary Ask we made sure to highlight: “A carbon price is not a silver bullet, but it’s the biggest single thing we can do, and it makes everything else we need to do easier. Please help us with your support.” 
Senate Democratic Offices
  • In the Senate, use all the same talking points but a more generalized ask: "Be ambitious: Cosponsor a carbon price."
  • All of the 116th Congress, CCL volunteers were asking senators to talk to Sen. Coons, and to get on the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act when it was reintroduced. It was never reintroduced and we want to learn from that.
  • We also want us to be responsive to our imperative: carbon pricing must be part of the discussion. This approach can be popular among Democrats, and the March Primary Ask is geared toward doing that by increasing the number of Democratic Senators currently cosponsoring a carbon price. 
  • Though the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act was never reintroduced in the Senate, there were three ambitious carbon fees or taxes that were introduced.
    • The American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act  (116th; S. 1128) - Sens. Whitehouse-Schatz
    • The Climate Action Rebate Act (116th; S. 2284) - Sens. Coons-Feinstein
    • The America’s Clean Future Fund Act (116th; S. 4484) - Sen. Durbin
  • We’re asking Democratic senators to cosponsor one of these bills or the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act.
  • We believe that all three Senate bills are going to be reintroduced this Congress and potentially early on, so CCL feels good about equipping our volunteers with this focused ask. 
For both House and Senate Democrats, the Companion Document is the same: "Carbon Pricing is Popular." For those of you who lobbied in December, this will look familiar to you. However, it’s been updated with new quotes, and the numbers have been updated because CCL volunteers have been busy getting more endorsements. This handout will enable our lobby teams to cite the support of scientists, economists, businesses, faith groups, local governments, and other countries.

Note: the statements in this document reflect support for "Carbon Pricing" instead of "Carbon Fee and Dividend." We can’t use these statements unless we accurately reflect what they say. “Carbon Price” accurately reflects what they say and “Carbon Fee and Dividend” does not.​
​​​​​​
Meeting With Senate Republican Offices
  • CCL's goal for the March Lobby Days is to reach three or more Republicans cosponsoring on a Senate Bill, or ten or more on a House Bill. 
  • In the Senate, though we could ask them to cosponsor one of the carbon pricing senate bills as we did for Democrats, none of them have a regulatory simplification, and nothing we've heard in the past seven years in our lobby meetings with Republicans leads Dr. Richter to think Republicans would sign up to sponsor a carbon pricing bill that doesn’t also do something to simplify regulations.  
  • So, the main focus is on asking them to get to the table and to line up with what businesses want. If the Republican party wishes to continue to be the party of business, heed what business leaders are saying on climate. In the Senate, we’re specifically asking Republicans to cosponsor the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and emphasizing the following talking points: That it's effective, good for the economy, durable and fair.

Theme

Main Messages

It’s Effective

The economy-wide carbon fee covers over 80% of U.S. emissions. Compare that with a piecemeal sectoral approach that requires a complex maze of policies for each sector (transportation, electricity, industry and buildings).

It’s Good For The Economy

A revenue neutral carbon price strengthens the economy and creates new job opportunities without increasing the deficit, all while stabilizing climate risk. Regulations are just not as good for the economy.

It’s Durable

Back and forth regulatory regimes destroy business confidence. Only Congressional action can provide businesses the durability and predictability they need to be competitive in a global market. A carbon price has the best chance for bipartisan support.

It’s Fair

A carbon price where funds are returned to all households gives everyone the liberty to change their behavior, or not. Those who do decide to change their behavior will be rewarded, but everyone has the same incentive and opportunity to do so.


House Republicans
  • In the House, there were other carbon pricing options Representatives could sign on for. The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act is CCL's favorite by far, but we’re encouraging Republican members in the House to get to the table by joining cosponsoring on a carbon price.
  • Unlike the Senate, where there was only one bipartisan bill with any regulatory simplification, in the House there were four bills: The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act, The MARKET CHOICE, The SWAP Act, and The Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act.
  • Unlike the Senate ask, these bills are not named in the Primary Ask. Our legislative team is not aware of any member of Congress planning to reintroduce the SWAP act or Raise Wages, Cut Carbon act, and are fairly certain that the MARKET CHOICE Act does not meet CCL's second bottom line of “good for the bottom 40% of earners.”
  • The fact that there were four bills instead of just one indicates that there’s more room for creativity in the House. So, for Republican House members we’re just asking them to use that creativity however they want. Any Republicans on any carbon pricing bill helps get it into President Biden’s package. 
For Republicans, the Companion Document highlights business support. Focusing on business support enables you in the meetings to bring forward more examples of business leaders, and it enables larger and longer direct quotes of their support. If you want to use this one in Democratic meetings, you can. If you want to use the one we suggest for Democratic meetings in a Republican meeting, you can. 

The primary ask should be made in every meeting, unless your member is already a cosponsor of the Energy Innovation Act. Send the corresponding (Republican or Democrat, House or Senate) handout for your member of Congress or staffer ahead of your lobby meeting. It is also recommended that you use this ask to frame your conversation with them. To download the PDF resources visit the Primary Asks Resource Page.

Note: If your member of Congress agrees to cosponsor the Energy Innovation Act during your lobby meeting, they will know what to do to take that step (i.e., contact Rep. Deutch's office). If they agree to cosponsor or express significant interest, please inform our CCL legislative staff by emailing  danny@citizensclimate.org.

Using Supporting Asks

You should always be clear that what you want is our primary ask. However, many members of Congress may not be ready to support the Energy Innovation Act or other carbon pricing bills when they are reintroduced in the 117th Congress. With the new Congress and presidential administration planning to act on climate, this is the time to show the support building around a carbon price. Even if you have a good idea of where your members stand on the bill or carbon pricing, you should again make the primary ask because the dynamics of the new Congress and presidential administration are so unique.

After that ask and subsequent discussion, it may make sense to make a supporting ask. Getting legislation passed is a complicated, coalition-building process in which lots of smaller steps must happen before we get a law, especially for a major bill like the Energy Innovation Act. Many members of Congress may be willing to support other bills that fit into the broader picture of addressing the climate crisis and are complementary to the Energy Innovation Act, and these could be stepping stones toward support for the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act.

Bills supporting bipartisan climate action

CCL has identified two bipartisan bills that have been introduced in the 116th Congress that could be useful supporting asks. Our primary objective in promoting these bills is to encourage bipartisanship on climate in Congress. When these bills are reintroduced in the 117th Congress, having members already lined up to cosponsor these bills can accelerate their support in Congress. The bills from the previous Congress all have cosponsors of both parties, all are complementary to the Energy Innovation Act, and all address policy issues that a carbon price does not. They are also all bills that make sense to move forward on as we deal with the current pandemic. Descriptions of each bill are in the attachment below. Just click on the .pdf file or blue hyperlinks for more information.

It is possible that none of the bills CCL will be asking for the primary or supporting asks will have been introduced yet by our March Lobby Days. We’ve never done a D.C.-centered lobby day this early in a new Congress, particularly one that also overlaps with a new presidential administration.

The dominant considerations in how we arrived at our choices for supporting asks: 
  1. Bipartisan
  2. Complementary to EICDA
  3. Hard to predict at this point. Because Congress is looking at climate change being addressed in a real way this year, and because that could be through either regular order or through reconciliation, the calculations on bill introduction are unusually scrambled for members of Congress. Members have to make choices about what they really want to put their time into given the timeline. That means that some bills we were expecting may be put aside in favor of bigger priorities, or potentially not introduced at all. 
  4. CCL is being extra careful about how we direct your lobby teams. We don’t want you advocating for something that isn’t ever going to be introduced. We don’t want you advocating for something as a supporting ask that Members and/or other organizations are not going to prioritize. 
As a result of all of this, there are only supporting asks for you: The Growing Climate Solutions Act and the RECLAIM Act
  • Growing Climate Solutions Act (House) (Senate)(from last session)
    • CCL knows this is going to be an early priority of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. It is supported by big names in Agriculture, including the Farm Bureau. I will remind you, because of the way we’ve structured our democracy, Agriculture has unusual influence in the Senate. Being able to say that we are supporting a climate bill that the Farm Bureau is also supporting is going to make your Senators look at you in a different way. That new way of looking at us, and the organization you represent, may be key to success on a Carbon Price. 
  • RECLAIM Act (House)(Senate) (from last session)
    • This is a bill that was found by our Coal Country Action team. There exists a coalition supporting it that we remain in contact with, and which has thanked us for the support we’ve lent to it. They’ve said it’s reinvigorated the effort. Our volunteers have said their support for this bill has opened new doors with their hard-to-get members. We’re supporting it again, and we did get intelligence that this should be reintroduced soon. 

This list is not exhaustive and is smaller than in the past because of a lack of clarity about what bills will be reintroduced at all this Congress. These two are bills we’re confident will be reintroduced and will have support of other groups as well. If there is a bill your group would like to use as a supporting ask that is not on this list, please contact CCL’s Senior Director of Government Affairs, Ben Pendergrass, at ben@citizensclimate.org. You should use your best judgment when deciding whether you want to make one or more of these bills a supporting ask. If any of them are a source of conflict within your group, please pick a different supporting ask.

Other Supporting Asks

If you have been working on other supporting asks, such as holding a bipartisan briefing on local climate impacts, holding a virtual public forum in the district, or are continuing a conversation about the Climate Solutions Caucus in the House or the Senate, it is fine to continue with those. Note, CCL is asking you not to ask your Senators to join the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus at this time as the current members prefer to keep this as a small caucus. It is great to let your Senator know that it exists and that you are excited about Senators working together to make climate a bridge issue. The Senate Climate Solutions Caucus (more info) was formed in 2019 by Senator Michael Braun (R-IN) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). If your continued conversation on the House Climate Solutions Caucus leads to interest in joining, interested offices should speak with Josh Lipman (Josh.Lipman@mail.house.gov) in the office of co-chair Ted Deutch. 

Working With Previous Cosponsors

If your member was a cosponsor of the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act from last session, beyond thanking them and asking them directly if they will cosponsor the bill when it is reintroduced, find out what support they could use in the district for this action, and perhaps how they could help recruit other sponsors or support the bill publicly. The How To Work With Existing Cosponsors training page provides more recommendations.

Length
Press play to start the video (38m 18s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Congressional Context
(2:42)

Primary Asks
(11:19)

Supporting Asks
(26:31)

Closing Thoughts
(33:27)

Q&A Discussion
(separate link: https://youtu.be/OAh7x8qtSmc)
Instructor(s)
  • Dr. Danny Richter
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Audio length
Press play to start the audio (38m 18s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Congressional Context
(2:42)

Primary Asks
(11:19)

Supporting Asks
(26:31)

Closing Thoughts
(33:27)

Q&A Discussion
(separate link: https://youtu.be/OAh7x8qtSmc)
Instructor(s)
  • Dr. Danny Richter
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Topics
Lobbying Congress
Format
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Training Resources

To prepare yourself, research the full suite of resources for planning a meeting with a member of Congress.