- The Washington Times - Friday, July 15, 2022

President Biden has vowed to take “strong executive action” on climate change after Senate Democrats came up short in their last-ditch effort to force climate and energy legislation through the chamber.

Mr. Biden said if the Senate will not tackle the climate crisis and back clean energy programs through legislation, he would “meet this moment” with the unilateral power of the presidency.

“I will not back down: the opportunity to create jobs and build a clean energy future is too important to relent,” he said.

The pledge to use executive action was welcomed by the political left, which has prodded Mr. Biden to do more.

Earlier, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the far-left “Squad,” said congressional failure to pass climate change legislation makes it Mr. Biden’s responsibility to do something. She said that she and other progressives have already given him the blueprint to follow.

“We have communicated over a dozen executive orders to the president,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “Everything from declaring a national emergency to using his authority to really shaping his approach to how fossil fuels get authorized, how vehicles are authorized, there’s [power] in the executive branch and I think it is time to use it.”

SEE ALSO: AOC prods Biden to use executive authority ‘to his limit’ on climate change

Mr. Biden’s climate agenda — which was already considerably downsized — derailed late Thursday in the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin III pulled his support for climate and tax provisions, effectively killing those items in a party-line spending bill that had been negotiated for months. 

The West Virginia Democrat, who is a key vote in the 50-50 split Senate, said his main concern was worsening the inflation rate, which hit a 41-year record high of 9.1% in June.

In his statement, Mr. Biden thanked Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer for “his dogged and determined effort to produce the strongest possible bill to bring down costs, reduce the deficit, and combat the climate crisis while boosting our energy security.” 

He doubled down on his calls on Congress to “act quickly and get legislation to my desk to deliver for American families.”

The Manchin defection was only the latest setback to Mr. Biden’s climate agenda. A little more than two weeks ago, the Supreme Court undercut the administration’s climate policies by reining in the 
Environmental Protection Agency’s broad authority to regulate carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Pressure from the left has been building on Mr. Biden to somehow start making progress a climate change.

SEE ALSO: Twisting in the wind: Texas faces blackouts as heat wave strains windmill-reliant power grid

How much Mr. Biden can do with executive orders is an open question, and bold moves will likely be challenged in court.

Constitutionally, Congress is the governmental body that has the spending power, meaning Mr. Biden is limited in what he can do when it comes to spending money.

Late last year, Mr. Manchin also cited inflation fears when he single-handedly killed Mr. Biden’s $1.75 trillion climate and social welfare bill, which was the bulk of the president’s domestic agenda.

Putting the kibosh on Democrats’ latest stab at climate and tax legislation, Mr. Manchin said he “unequivocally” would only back measures to lower prescription drug prices and extend Affordable Care Act subsidies for two years.

The support of all 50 Senate Democrats is needed to push through the spending-and-tax package. Mr. Manchin’s defection sapped Democrats’ hopes of a legislative climate victory this year, though drug pricing and Obamacare subsidies would still be a win.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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