2021 Legislative Plan
CCL's Bottom Lines
CCL has always viewed that the most effective way to get legislation passed is to have a laser focus on the legislation that is bipartisan and satisfies our two bottom lines: emissions reductions effectiveness while protecting lower income individuals and families. In other words, the integrity of the following two bottom lines is essential for CCL staff to recommend support to our volunteers support for any comprehensive policy:
- That policy should have a reasonable expectation of large emissions reductions once implemented. We understand this to mean exceeding U.S. Individual Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) under the 2015 Paris Agreement. We also understand such emissions reductions to be achievable with a single well-designed carbon pricing policy.
- That policy should ensure that at the very least the two lowest income quintiles (i.e. the poorest 40%) of Americans “end up ahead.” By this, we mean that for the vast majority of households in each of those quintiles, increases in income as a result of the policy should exceed cost increases as a result of the policy.
Processing The Election Results
- The Presidency: Joe Biden won a 306 - 232 Electoral College victory and a wide margin of victory in the popular vote. This means that there will be a White House interested in pursuing a climate package. Joe Biden is a long-established "creature of the Senate," who has a history of working well across the aisle, and who hails from a business-friendly state (2/3 of Fortune 500 companies businesses are registered in Delaware).
- The House: Democrats kept the House, but their majority was significantly diminished after an election with record turnout. Significantly, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, the only Republican fighting for re-election who has his name on a carbon price bill and who was one of the most vulnerable Republicans this election cycle, won convincingly. Robust support of a carbon price is not a death knell for Republicans, and it might even be their saving grace. You could say similar things about Sen. Susan Collins in the Senate.
- The Senate: The most important piece. The Senate is the narrow point, and while considerations in the House by Representations still matter, they will have less impact on the overall scope of what happens legislatively in 2021. And for both parties, but especially Republican, they are already looking at 2022 and protecting vulnerable senators in the next election. The next cycle will be difficult for Republicans, with 22 Republicans to 12 Democrats defending seats. Given this there is an opportunity to have conservative senators that support climate legislation serve as a middle ground and those who engage in that middle ground early are going to have a larger say in the final structure of any emerging policy that results. While instances of climate skepticism in conservative offices continue to decrease in CCL's June Meeting Analysis, conservatives will need to figure out how to talk about climate change and solutions in a way that is consistent with what they’ve been saying in the past, and with the order in which they prioritize America’s common values. This will take time and we want to speed it up.
Key To Future Legislative Success
- Heading into the 117th Congress, our focus lies on embracing the reality that there will be limited time and attention in Congress.
- The Context: Bipartisanship a must with the way the election played out. Our priority, climate, is aligned with their priorities, and it is a solution that can be both durable and effective.
- Our goal is to stack the deck, getting as many co-sponsors to return as possible to demonstrate that carbon fee and dividend policies are popular, and are the climate solution with the best shot of bipartisan, expert support, are more immune to any Supreme Court (much harder to challenge the constitutional authority for Congress to raise revenues and disburse them via a carbon fee) and will cut emissions quickly, efficiently, and at the least cost, leaving more money for other priorities.
- CCL will continue to focus on supporting Rep. Deutch in his goals to reintroduce an updated bill in bipartisan fashion early in the 117th Congress and will work to ratchet up support for this bill in lasting ways that make it so that future cosponsors don’t have as far to leap when they hop on the bill.
- The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act is now Rep. Deutch’s bill. It’s not CCL’s bill. As pointed out when it was introduced, CCL surrendered a lot of control over the content and direction of the bill when it was first introduced. This was a difficult but necessary step and we don’t regret it.
- Because we have taken that step, we’ve gotten over 1,500 endorsements and statements of support. Some of those statements of support we would not have been able to get without the one, now retiring Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney, on H.R.763. Without Rep. Rooney cosponsoring as a Republican, we would not have gotten, among others, the statement of support from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or the support in principle of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. What this accomplishes is that it closes the distance that the next Republican will need to jump to hop onto this bill.
- These kinds of endorsements can be thought of as ratchets. Work toward moving forward in a way that can’t be undone. The next six to seven months should be focused on getting more such ratchets in support of the bill. We have more work to do to close the distance for more cosponsors, both Democrats and especially Republicans to jump on this bill.
- In our December Lobby Day, a major focus of CCL was on consolidating support for the Energy Innovation Act and making sure that existing cosponsors were ready to sign on again in the new Congress.
- In summary, building clout, gaining endorsements, seeking out statements of support, making our organization a welcoming space for all our volunteers and gaining additional conservative cosponsors are all keys to CCL having a seat at the table for any climate package that might be under discussion in 2021 as well as for following the IPCC recommendation of a carbon price being necessary for any ambitious climate policy. Let’s continue to show the world what this team is capable of, and bend that arc of history in favor of robust and durable climate action.
Meeting Congress Where They Are
- Sensitivity to where members of Congress are with the three crises that are on all of our minds: COVID, racial injustice and economic recovery.
- At the same time that we must handle the climate crisis, we are facing three other urgent ones: the pandemic, the economy, and racism in our society. Climate change will remain CCL’s focus, but we know that all of these crises are important and need to be addressed.
- Adaptability to the constraints these place both on us, and on the attentions of members of Congress. They have to be responsive to their constituents, and their constituents are going to be most concerned with the crisis that is right in front of them.
- We are seeking to build our clout by lobbying on additional and complementary policies, most of which other organizations are also behind. This enables direct side-by-side comparisons of what you all can accomplish, and what their organizations can accomplish. It is our hope that when they see what you are capable of accomplishing toward a common goal, they will be impressed and will demand that CCL be invited to more discussions.
- To connect with staffers, remember that they are human, and they have lived through the same past year of challenge and upheaval that the rest of us have.
- Staff and members of Congress are human. Staff have to be nice to you. They are overworked and under-resourced.
- Some will be distracted and some will be completely on their game. Plan for success, even though challenges are possible amidst the wide variation in responses we will face, and treat them all like professionals.
- As Congress transitions into 2021, it also faces a large number of new members of Congress and retirements, leading to staff changing and turnover between offices.
- Given that our meetings will remain online for March and June in 2021, spend extra time practicing on transitions between meeting participants.
- Also, be sure to "read the room" and understand that some offices will have their hands full managing their constituent needs with all of the other crises our country is facing right now. Your response should include assuring them that we understand and thanking them for their service during this important time.
Ongoing Areas of Focus
- There is a growing sense that a big climate package will be forthcoming early in 2021 given it is furthest from next election while President Biden will have the most political capital. That package will most likely face pressure to include many climate policies, and may or may not include carbon pricing. Here are CCL’s twin goals:
- 1. A carbon price is the backbone of that package, and
- 2. CCL has a seat at the table when that package is being discussed.
- The Senate remains key to any climate legislation and successful outcomes will hinge on gathering bipartisan support. With control of the Senate being with a narrow majority regardless of what happens with the results in Georgia's two run-off elections, any climate legislation is going to be more durable with Republicans on board, and several Democratic Senators may not vote for certain types of climate action. Further, though the Biden administration's recent plan doesn’t include explicit mentioning of a carbon price, his early messaging did talk about a carbon price, and media reports highlight that Chris Coons, who holds Biden’s former senate seat from Delaware, is a close advisor.
- We can share the success we’ve been having over the past two months in generating support for additional climate legislation cosponsors throughout Congress to help build our organization’s clout.
- We can highlight the effectiveness and deep level of engagement and involvement of our volunteer network. Compared to the other large climate focused organizations, CCL has an annual budget that is many times smaller, yet has tens of thousands of engaged, activated, and impactful volunteers.
- We are going to focus as begin a new Congressional session in getting more endorsements and statements of support in our local districts and states. Just as we share LTEs we get published with our members of Congress, when you get a new statement or endorsement, we want you to send them to our members as well and bring them to your next meetings.
- What can help our work in putting a carbon price as the backbone of any climate package more than anything else will be getting Republican cosponsors on the bill. Endorsements and Statements of support will very much help with this and so will adding conservatives to our organization. Remember, as of November of 2019, the last data point that is included on the Yale Project on Climate communications website 31% of Americans are alarmed - that’s 98 million Americans, including a lot of conservatives. We will continue to work on making our meetings welcoming and inclusive for Americans of every ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, and political perspective.
- For the endorsers and for cosponsors on the Energy Innovation Act we should have a concerted push to speak out about their support again. Either write an open letter, write an op-ed, or yes, attend lobby meetings with our volunteers. Get this issue back on their radar before the election, and get them to go through the mental process of writing in their own words why they support and are excited about this piece of legislation.
Context for COVID Relief package and H.R.763
- Congress will continue to work towards the next COVID relief package, and there is hope that like the one that passed at the end of 2020, it may be possible to get further climate mitigation or adaptation legislation included. CCL volunteers have asked if it might be possible to "sneak" a policy like the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act into such a bill.
- This is not likely. What we’re advocating for is really, really significant. It would take a huge chunk out of emissions, and have really profound impacts on the carbon intensity of the economy, and thus the economy itself.
- For context, Republicans in prior packages proposed a $1 trillion COVID relief plan, whereas Democrats have proposed a $3 trillion pricetag. These are huge numbers, but after referring to a useful spreadsheet in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act Dataset, we find that the Energy Innovation Act is expected to raise $3 trillion over a standard 10-year budgeting period.
- While it would all be returned to households, that won’t matter to members of Congress as there’s just no sneaking an additional $3 trillion policy into a $1 or 3 trillion plan.
- What we can rest assured of is that CCL's continue to work on is getting some of the other bills that we’ve worked on this year included and CCL has been doing that. For information about how the advocacy of CCL volunteers lead directly to three of our supporting asks being included in the end of the year 2020 massive omnibus package, see this CCL Blog piece: Three of CCL’s lobbying asks pass Congress, will become law.
Intro & Agenda
The Lame Duck
The New Congress
Separate Q&A Discussion Recording
- Danny Richter
Download the Google Slides presentation
Intro & Agenda
The Lame Duck
The New Congress
Separate Q&A Discussion Recording
- Danny Richter