Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday issued a blunt warning to Joe Manchin and other Senate Democrats who are forcing Joe Biden to scale back his climate crisis program: your resistance is going to cost lives.
Manchin, a coal-dependent West Virginia state senator, opposes elements of the President’s Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP), a central $ 150 billion element of his Build Back Better plan and a bill of expenditures of $ 3.5 billion.
White House officials have acknowledged that the clean energy and clean electricity provisions will likely be removed from the bill to gain support from Manchin and his skeptical colleague Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both votes are critical in a 50-50 split Senate.
Buttigieg appeared to express his disappointment with Manchin’s stance on Sunday, telling CNN’s State of the Union that the blocking by recalcitrant politicians of Biden’s ambitious climate plan could be deadly.
“The longer you take to do something, the more it will cost in livelihoods and lives,” he said.
“The administration and the president are committed to bold climate action, the legislative form that exactly takes is what is being negotiated right now. But the bottom line is that we need to act on the climate for the good of our children and for the good of our economy. It’s like a planetary maintenance problem.
Biden is trying to negotiate a deal with Manchin and Sinema that would allow the bill to pass, although the president has already conceded cuts would be made. “I have no doubts that we will get there. We are not going to get $ 3.5 billion. We’ll get less than that, but we’re going to get it, ”Biden said on Friday.
Buttigieg’s criticism was more veiled than that of progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who lambasted Manchin last week in an opinion piece in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
“Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation. Yet… in a 50-50 Senate, we need every Democratic senator to vote “yes”. We have only 48 left. Two Democratic senators remain in the opposition, including Manchin. he wrote.
“This is a pivotal moment in modern American history. We have a historic opportunity to support working families in West Virginia, Vermont, and across the country and create a policy that works for everyone, not just a few. “
His comments drew a quick rebuke from Manchin, who in a tweet attempted to portray Sanders as an overseas socialist trying to “tell West Virginia what is best for them”.
“Millions of jobs are open, supply chains are strained and inevitable inflationary taxes deplete hard-earned wages for workers as the price of gasoline and groceries continue to rise,” Manchin said. .
“I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs. “
Buttigieg responded to criticism of the administration’s handling of the supply chain crisis on Sunday, telling CNN it was caused at least in part by the success of Biden’s economic policies.
“If you think of those ships waiting at anchor on the west coast, each one is full of record amounts of cargo that Americans are buying because demand is up, because revenues are up, because the president has managed to take this economy out of the teeth. of a terrifying recession, ”he said.
He praised Biden’s efforts last week to ease bottlenecks, including ordering California ports to operate 24 hours a day, but said in a separate interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that he didn’t was not the government’s responsibility to solve what it said was a “very complex problem”.
“You have the terminals, the rail part, you have the warehouses, the drivers, and we are working on all of those angles,” he said. “But these are private sector systems, it’s a capitalist country. No one wants the federal government to own or operate stores, warehouses, trucks, ships or ports. Our role is to try to make sure that we support the companies and the workers who do it.