2022 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 (as of May 2022), deepening understanding for the opportunity in budget reconciliation and the role CCL can play within our June lobby meetings.  This is a recommended training for any CCL volunteer planning on being a part of their group's June 2022 Lobby Meeting (as well as Lobby Training #2 - Reviewing CCL's Primary & Supporting Asks).

 
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Click the "Watch" tab to view the video 

Click on the "Watch" tab above for the video and the slides from Dr. Richter's May 19th training.

Review Of Where We've Been

After Sen. Manchin walked away from Build Back Better negotiations at the end of 2021, there’s been a lot of waiting. In January, Sen. Manchin shared comments that he liked many of the climate provisions, including spending up to $550 billion on extending the clean energy tax credits and other parts of the package including a methane fee. He’s been remarkably consistent throughout this process. He says one thing, then he says the same thing a month later, and people seem surprised that he’s saying the same thing. 

Regarding the Sens. Manchin/Murkowski bipartisan energy effort, here's CCL's full statement and the condensed notes are that:
  • Bipartisanship is good. 
  • This effort could delay a deal, but if so it would be more because of the same issues that have bedeviled the process throughout than because of the bipartisan effort. 
  • It would be a shame if bipartisan outreach got a bad name. Right now, the Senate staff’s sense is that the pros outweigh the cons. It's also possible that some of the discussion there could work its way into a re-built reconciliation bill. 
  • As of right now, it seems as if the bipartisan effort is doing more than anything else to get Sen. Manchin reengaged on climate. 
  • Discussion with Sen. Schumer in late April, which Sen. Manchin emphasized the deficit, and inflation (shocking!)
  • Sen. Manchin is comfortable with raising money from corporations and from drug pricing reform in a way that seems to be mutually exclusive to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s preferences.
Reconciliation Updates
  • Effective deadline: July 30 (due to recess and election considerations. There is so much still to be done. Factoring in recesses, if they haven’t pretty much figured it out by July, they won’t get it done by September. 
  • As a result, our advocacy in June could be particularly well timed. Democratic members of Congress need to hear from their constituents that there is still urgency on climate.
  • The biggest negotiations left to happen are not so much on how to spend the money; they’re on how to raise the money and what programs get cut from Build Back Better (BBB). They are trying to have these discussions out of view of the media.
  • It could be that Sen. Manchin announces tomorrow it’s done and we don’t have to wait until July or September. Or it could be that he and Sen. Sinema announce that they’ve come to a compromise. The point: It’s become very on/off. Not much room for nuance, or for advocacy groups outside like CCL to address the details. Our main role has shifted to making sure the process gets over the finish line and that is very important.. 
  • We need to move towards an agreement. Once an agreement is reached, things can move quickly because much of the language has been written. 
  • House has already passed BBB. So, Senate passage, then House will need to vote again on whatever Senate passes, which will not be called BBB. 
  • Technical deadline: Budget resolution expires Sept. 30. (wouldn’t extend unless they were super close) Not enough time after Sept,. 30 to do a new one.  

Competing Priorities

  • Russia invaded Ukraine and entirely changed the way the country looks at energy. 
    • Some of this seems helpful (push to get off of fossil fuels)
    • Some of this seems difficult (higher energy prices make democrats and republicans more hesitant to put a further price rise on energy)
  • Inflation - makes it harder for a carbon price. Note the urgency of some elected Democrats to remove the gas tax. Simultaneously, consumer prices have increased urgency of moderate Democrats like Sens. Manchin and Sinema to take policy action on inflation/gas prices.
  • The appointment of Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court
  • Additional competing priorities:
    • Supreme Court Roe vs Wade discussion. 
    • Recesses
    • Appropriations process
    • China bill
    • Ukraine legislation (sanctions and other trade bills)
  • Good news: Manchin is bringing up the methane fee (he used to be fighting it).
Take home - There’s still a chance to pass reconciliation, although it is not a sure thing, and will need help from the likes of groups like CCL to get it over the line if it materializes. Accordingly, the chances for a carbon price in it are even smaller than the chance for reconciliation.  
  • Pros - Tension between Sens. Manchin and Sinema on what parts of the policy will generate revenue (pay-fors)
  • Cons - Inflation, High energy prices, the election
Current in Congress...
  • The Election: All of Congress is increasingly viewing every policy discussion through the lens of the midterm election coming up in less than six months. 
  • The House has six weeks in August and early September (four for Senate). Then it's off for six weeks until the election (four weeks for Senate), and they’re only back in session for only four weeks between the election and the end of the year, the end of the Congress. In total, the House has 13 weeks in session between now and the end of the year, only nine of which occur before the election (Three in June, three in July, and three in September).
  • The Senate has 20. Reminder that being "out of session" means they can’t vote. They’re still working and the Senate's work on reconciliation will probably continue in some manner over recess. 
  • Democrats are very concerned about how the elections will go for them if they don’t pass something through the budget reconciliation process. Progressives seem to be willing to accept a smaller package. 
  • Republicans are excited about the prospect of retaking both chambers. They are going to be trying to deny Democrats legislative successes, and they will be looking to paint whatever the Democrats do without them as being terrible. 
  • Daily life for a staffer includes reconciliation fatigue, trying to stay on top of their workload, punctuated by long stretches of boredom. 
What is the opportunity for CCL?
  •  Democrats:
    • Shore up support from members of Congress to vote for whatever Sens. Manchin and Sinema agree on. Even in the slimmed down version (e.g. the $550 billion that Sen. Manchin has mentioned for climate), it would still be the biggest climate package ever passed in this country. 
    • Get them to start thinking productively about the next Congress, which is very likely to be controlled at least in part by Republicans (looking at retirement divide). 
  • Republicans:
    • Getting them to walk faster towards climate solutions (Moderate Republicans and Senate Republicans).
    • Get them to wrap their heads further around the idea that the world has moved on a carbon price via Sen. Cramer’s border carbon adjustment mechanisms (Populist Republicans)

How do we achieve these goals? -See this Thursday's (5/26 @ 8 pm ET) Primary & Supporting Asks training (RSVP here).

Concluding Thoughts

 Politics on Capitol Hill today is in a very unusual place. Climate remains a top priority for the President, and for Congress, and that’s great! 

  • The biggest successes for climate this year so far have been bipartisan successes - the Bipartisan Infrastructure package included over $100 billion for climate, and the 92-8 vote on the Growing Climate Solutions Act. 
  • The budget reconciliation process had been the primary way forward for Democrats, but malaise has set in. Competing priorities and crises have drawn their attention away from reconciliation, as has the impending election. They will need their constituents, you, to refocus their attention on this and remind them how important an opportunity this moment is to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. 
  • Bipartisan pathways remain open, and the Sens. Manchin/Murkowski pathway may in fact feed directly into reconciliation in a positive way. At present, it appears the pros outweigh the cons. 
  • Republicans remain engaged on climate, and this conference represents a great opportunity to get them to walk faster towards climate solutions, and to get populist Republicans to consider a carbon price through the lens of a carbon border adjustment. There is plenty of impact for our meetings in June. 

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:

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 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.

Length
Press play to start the video (30m 30s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis. 

Intro & Agenda 
(from beginning)

Review Where We've Been
(2:48)

Reconciliation Updates
(8:54)

Currently In Congress...
(18:41)

Conclusions
(26:06)

Q&A Discussion (separate video)
(https://vimeo.com/712061393)
Instructor(s)
  • Dr. Danny Richter
Downloads
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (30m 30s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
 To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis. 

Intro & Agenda 
(from beginning)

Review Where We've Been
(2:48)

Reconciliation Updates
(8:54)

Currently In Congress...
(18:41)

Conclusions
(26:06)

Q&A Discussion (separate video)
(https://vimeo.com/712061393)
Instructor(s)
  • Dr. Danny Richter
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Lobbying Congress
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