No Climate, No Deal: How Progressives Are Holding the Line for the Full Build Back Better Act

by Ashley Thomson

October 1, 2021

What will it take for the Senate to listen to the people and not fossil fuel lobbyists?

Things are moving quickly. 

Over the course of the summer plagued by climate disasters, Congress has been embroiled in a bipartisan battle over the future of our climate. Right now, two historic bills are being negotiated. At stake are trillions of dollars in federal funding to address crumbling infrastructure, growing inequality, and climate change. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, also known as the Exxon bill, already passed in the Senate earlier this summer. That bill is, very simply, not a climate bill. It is nowhere near enough to secure a livable future. That’s why we’re calling on both the House and the Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act before finishing up passing the Bipartisan infrastructure deal. 

Fossil-fueled politicians like Senator Joe Manchin, and business-sponsored interests like Krysten Sinema are holding the Build Back Better Act hostage. Impassioned activists and frontline fighters from West Virginia have taken to the waters in DC every day this week in a powerful flotilla around Joe Manchin’s yacht. Despite this, the fossil fuel industry continues to speak through Manchin. They’re telling us to pass their deal, and they’re trying to weaken and delay the Build Back Better Act. 

A flotilla of activists from Center for Popular Democracy, CASA, and Greenpeace USA take to kayaks and electric boats to demonstrate near Senator Joe Manchin’s houseboat in the DC Wharf to demand that he support the Build Back Better Act.

There’s no time to waste. Write to your Senator to demand they pass the Build Back Better Act with all the necessary climate provisions for climate action today.  
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This week, a memo dated July 28th and signed by both Senator Schumer and Senator Manchin that outlines a list of Manchin’s demands for the reconciliation bill leaked. In short, it is all terrible stuff and guts all the climate provisions. It explicitly says that if clean energy tax credits are included then fossil fuel subsidies will not be revoked. This is not how we will reach a just transition off of fossil fuels. 

The good news is that progressives are holding the line. Last night, the Progressive Caucus blocked the Democrats from garnering all the votes necessary to pass a greatly watered down version of the infrastructure deal. Progressives like Rep. Pramila Jayapal are standing strong, refusing to pass any deal without passing the climate-visionary reconciliation bill first. In doing this, they are sending a message to establishment Democrats in Congress that nothing less than the most visionary legislation to address the climate crisis will be acceptable. 

We need climate champions to show leadership. Politicians need to stand up to these fossil-fuel extremists. We need to make the Build Back Better Act stronger, and we need to pass it. Climate champions that have supported an end to fossil fuel subsidies, like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, must do their best to convince Senate colleagues that no climate plan is complete without an end to the $15 billion in annual subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. But they can’t do it without YOU. 

A flotilla of activists from Center for Popular Democracy, CASA, and Greenpeace USA take to kayaks and electric boats to demonstrate near Senator Joe Manchin’s houseboat in the DC Wharf to demand that he support the Build Back Better Act.

Your Senators urgently need to hear from you: if there are no climate provisions in the infrastructure or Build Back Better Act, then there’s no deal.  

Moderate Democrats and Republicans are dragging their heels hoping to delay negotiations long enough to water down any meaningful climate action. Senators in support of ending handouts of our public dollars  to fossil fuel corporations have to dig in their heels to ensure that the bills pass the Senate with the strongest climate provisions possible. We can’t let the future of our nation’s climate fight be decided by those in the pockets of Big Oil. 

Our elected officials are tasked with governing to bring about the best possible version of what this country can be. The Build Back Better and Infrastructure bills could be THE downpayment on a decade of Green New Deal policies that get us there. We can only get that decade started if you take action and demand your elected leaders keep their promise.

This summer was just a preview into the climate-wrecked future we could all be in for. Instead of passing bills that would continue government support for the very industry responsible for this crisis, our Senators have the opportunity to begin severing ties with fossil fuels. We deserve a world with good union jobs, a transition to renewable energy, and opportunities for all to recover and thrive. 

Tell your Senator: No climate, no deal. Message your Senator to demand their support for an end to fossil fuel subsidies in the Build Back Better Act.

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Ashley Thomson

By Ashley Thomson

Ashley is a Campaigner on the Climate team at Greenpeace USA where she works on Federal climate policy. For the past several years she's worked on global climate policy for commodity supply chains, and has organized locally in DC for environmental justice and equity.

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