Climate Change was at the center of Biden’s campaign for president, and at the center of his climate plan was a commitment to require 100% clean electricity by 2035. Now it is time to turn this campaign promise into law, and that’s where we come in. 

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund have been passing clean electricity standards and renewable portfolio standards at the state level for nearly two decades. We are now rolling up our sleeves to make it happen in Congress too. You can take action right now by contacting your Senators to support Biden’s 100% plan. 

Meanwhile, here’s some background on our path to victory.

The Filibuster versus Reconciliation

The US Senate is broken, and the anvil around the neck of the once great deliberative body is the filibuster. Right now any US Senator can block any bill simply by filibustering it. It takes 60 votes to block a filibuster which means all legislation needs 60 votes in the Senate. There are 50 Democrats in the Senate so to get 60 votes a bill would need every Democrat to vote for it and 10 Republicans. There isn’t a single republican talking about solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis, let alone 10!

 

It would only take 51 votes to eliminate the filibuster, and VP Harris could cast the 51st vote. But, Joe Manchin, a Democratic Senator from West Virginia has sworn that he will never vote to eliminate the filibuster, making the filibuster Democrats most costly self inflicted wound. All this means Republicans have complete veto power over any climate legislation, except for a process called reconciliation.

Reconciliation

Reconciliation allows lawmakers to pass legislation in the Senate with only 50 votes. Normally it can only be done once per calendar year, but for complicated procedural reasons, Democrats are able to use budget reconciliation twice in 2021. 

 

Right now Congress is busy passing Biden’s COVID relief package through reconciliation. That process is expected to be completed by the end of February. Then in late spring or early summer, the Biden team will announce an infrastructure/energy bill. That legislation will be enormous and mostly focused on infrastructure, but it will be the vehicle that will carry our climate hopes and dreams over the finish line. 

 

The Democrats will give the Republicans a few weeks, maybe even a month, to come to the table and negotiate in good faith, and if/when that does not lead to a breakthrough then the Democrats will pass the infrastructure package through reconciliation too. 

 

We need to make sure that the infrastructure package includes 100% clean electricity by 2035, which can be done through reconciliation. That package is our one and only shot. Once the doors of reconciliation slam shut behind that bill, then we will be stuck needing 60 votes to do anything, which means we will be able to do nothing. 

What We are Doing

We are meeting with members of Congress to build support for 100% by 2035 while simultaneously keeping the pressure on Biden not to cave on this issue. 

You can help by contacting your senator about this crucial policy. By taking that action you will be looped into the circle of folks planning and working to pass this bill. 

You can also sign up to take a shift holding a sign that says “100% clean energy by 2035” in front of the White House so that Biden’s staff see our message every day as they arrive at work. 

If you have any other questions or comments, contact Jamie (jamie@chesapeakeclimate.org).

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