Sanders, AOC call on Biden to declare national emergency on climate change

Sanders, AOC call on Biden to declare national emergency on climate change
Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP
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Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Earl Blumenauer introduced legislation on Thursday calling upon President Joe Biden to declare a national emergency on climate change. 

Should the resolution pass, it would enable Biden to direct extra funding to the issue without the approval of Congress. 

Sanders’ proposed legislation comes in the wake of a statement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who suggested that the president declare a climate emergency to take actions through emergency powers. 

The Hill notes that the proposal would face difficulty passing the 60 vote threshold to avoid the Senate filibuster. It is also likely to face opposition from moderate Democrats, who oppose climate change initiatives that negatively impact blue-collar jobs. 

In January, Biden scrapped the Keystone XL pipeline agreement with Canada, in a move that was said to have cost upwards of 70,000 jobs. 

Sanders’ legislation cites a statement from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which demands “far-reaching, multilevel and cross-sectoral climate mitigation” to combat climate change. 

The proposed legislation calls for Biden to invest in major projects to prepare the infrastructure of the United States for the foreseeable impacts of climate change. It also calls on the president to invest in clean energy solutions that are “socially and racially just.” 

“We are out of time and excuses. Our country is in crisis and, to address it, we will have to mobilize our social and economic resources on a massive scale,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “If we want to ensure that our nation has an equitable economic recovery and prevent yet another life-altering crisis - then we have to start by calling this moment what it is, a national emergency.”

Republicans have rejected the proposal for a presidentially-declared climate emergency. Upon Schumer’s suggestion, Sen. John Barrasso accused the senior Democrat of “trying to muzzle Congress.” 

“Schumer wants the president to go it alone and produce more punishing regulations, raise energy costs, and kill even more American jobs,” he said.  

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and Blumenauer have previously campaigned for the declaration of a climate emergency. In 2019, the trio introduced a resolution that called on Congress to recognize the sense that “there is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes.”

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