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2020 Legislative Plan

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Join CCL's Vice President of Government Affairs Dr. Danny Richter for a training that will provide up to the moment insights on the dynamics in Congress and how we can most effectively use our time in meetings to support our agenda.
TOC and Guide Section
Priority Actions For Fall 2020
  • Aside from having a more realistic impression of how the CCL team you’re a part of fit into the larger ecosystem, there are also a few things we’re going to ask you to focus on over the next few months. 
  • At our December Lobby Day, we’re going to keep focusing on engaging on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, and getting off to a running start in the new Congress. We want to consolidate support around that, and gain new support. 
    • This starts with endorsers, and statements of support. We are going to focus in the next three months to work to get 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.
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 low income individuals.  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:
  1. 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. 
  2. That policy should ensure that 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.
Key To Future Legislative Success
  • For the next six to seven months our focus lies on embracing the reality that there will be limited time and attention in Congress.
  • 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. 
  • H.R.763 is 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 will be consolidating support for the bill, making sure that existing cosponsors are ready to sign on again in the new Congress. We are going to come prepared with all the ratchets, the statements of support and the endorsements we’ve already gained, and the ones we will gain between now and that lobby day, to begin the new Congress with a running start. 
    • 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 three months 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.
  • This year in Congress we face a large number of retirements, leading to staff changing and turnover between offices.
  • Given that our meetings will be online this June, 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.
Building CCL's Clout
  • There is a growing sense that a big climate package will be forthcoming early next year. A package that includes 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. Even if Democrats take the Senate and get rid of the filibuster, 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 a mention 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. 
  • It is the role of advocates to tilt the scales of history in their favor, so how do we accomplish this? How do we ensure CCL has a seat at the table when discussing that package of bills, and how do we ensure that the kind of policy the IPCC 1.5 degree report called a “necessary condition of ambitious climate policy” is at the heart of it?
    • 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. 
Context for COVID Relief package and H.R.763
  • Congress is working towards the next COVID relief package, and there is hope that in this one, it may be possible to get some climate mitigation or adaptation legislation included. CCL volunteers have asked if it might be possible to "sneak" a policy like the Energy Innovation Act into such a bill. 
    • This is not likely. What we’re advocating for in the Energy Innovation Act 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 have proposed a $1 trillion COVID relief plan, whereas Democrats have proposed a $3 trillion plan. 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 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. In the almost two  months since our June Lobby Day, the RECLAIM Act and BEST act were passed as part of the infrastructure package in the House (H.R.2), the USE IT act was included in the NDAA in the Senate, and we’ve had 62 new cosponsors on the bills we supported. 62! Referring back to the notes you submitted, for 63% of those cosponsors, CCL volunteers brought up the bill they cosponsored in their meeting. 
  • We’re already working to get these bills into the package, and here’s a specific example: Amy Bennett shared with Liaisons that Rep. Foster’s office was putting together a “Dear Colleague letter” to get a last surge of cosponsors for the BEST act before it was no longer able to add cosponsors because it was ordered out of committee (it had already passed out). Just last week, that bill added 24 cosponsors. We can learn two things from this experience:
    • Follow-up is important. On bills with smaller price tags, members of Congress are often quite happy to sign onto things you ask them to. Following up with offices who said they were going to cosponsor or were thinking about it about a month after your meeting can be very productive. 
    • CCL’s model works. We’ve built a machine that works, and works well. Most other organizations do not set their sights on prizes as lofty as bipartisan cooperation, nor on something as transformative as the Energy Innovation Act would be. When we set our sights, even temporarily, on bills that are in line with the ambition of most organizations, we can help move them in impressive fashion. 
  • This example has been a successful exercise in building clout. For Rep. Foster’s office to note 24 new cosponsors in a week after CCL helped call and activate their members is the kind of story that will enable us to be at the table for the upcoming legislative session.
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First video

Intro & Agenda (from beginning)

Legislative Strategy - June Lobby Day  (2:13)

Starting On The Inside Track For 117th Congress (16:12)

Meeting Congress Where They're At (23:28)

Second video

Context for COVID Relief package & H.R.763 (from beginning)

Priority Actions For Fall 2020 (9:48)
  • Danny Richter
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Audio Outline
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Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Legislative Strategy - Lobby Day Through Election

Starting On The Inside Track For 117th Congress

Meeting Congress Where They're At
  • Danny Richter
Lobbying Congress