By Madison Mayhew, IPL Policy Advocate
As gardens began to bloom around DC neighborhoods last week, Congress officially moved to pass an appropriations omnibus bill to fund the federal government through September 2022. The bill provided an overall funding increase of about 5% across the board, with some wins for funding around climate programs including an increase of environmental justice funding for the EPA, funding for National Civilian Climate Corps and cleaning superfunds. However, this small increase is a fraction of what the climate community had been hoping for, and what the President had called for.
Without these increases in climate funding, passing the climate provisions of the Reconciliation Package (formerly known as BBBA) is now more important than ever. The most recent IPCC Report on Climate Change reaffirms the urgency of addressing the climate crisis. Those most in danger of experiencing the harm of a warming planet are those who have contributed to climate change the least – BIPOC communities and poor communities. The Earth is on track to warm more between now and 2040, which could be devastating for both people and creation. There is still time to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and now is the time to act.
Earlier this year, Build Back Better failed due to Senator Manchin’s lack of support. However, we know Senator Manchin has vocally supported the original climate provisions of the bill and is open to negotiations with the reconciliation package. This past week, Rep. Sean Casten, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Rep. Nikema Williams sent a letter to President Biden with 80 members of the House signing on, urging the president to restart negotiations on the reconciliation package and making climate the core of any revised bill. We applaud these efforts and join in calling on President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Schumer to move this package forward, while centering climate change and those most affected by it.
Lastly, next week the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings for the historic nomination of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson. The hearings will begin on Tuesday, March 21 and will continue through March 24. We know environmental laws are only as strong as the judges who uphold them. We need fair-minded judges who understand the difference between science and politics, and recognize the government’s responsibility to protect public health and the environment.