Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Wednesday that progressives would press for alternative policies aimed at addressing carbon emissions in President Biden’s spending bill if moderate Sen. Joe Manchin succeeds in blocking the administration’s proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program.
Manchin has signaled that he does not support the Biden-backed program, a $150 billion plan that would reward utility firms for transitioning to clean energy and penalize those that do not. Jayapal, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said the group’s "goal is to have carbon reductions" built into the spending bill.
"If we can't do the CEPP, which it seems is what Sen. Manchin is saying, then we'd have to look at other ways," Jayapal told reporters. "We thought the CEPP was the best way to do it."
The West Virginia senator’s hardline stance has drawn criticism from progressives, who have insisted the final spending bill must include significant investments in green energy programs. Manchin has reportedly argued that CEPP would reward firms for taking steps many have already pursued.
Democratic leaders are engaged in tense negotiations with moderate and progressive leaders to reach a consensus on the spending bill. Jayapal and others have expressed optimism that a deal will be reached before a looming Oct. 31 deadline, though key differences remain. Any final spending package is expected to be far smaller than the $3.5 trillion target that Biden and progressives initially envisioned.
At present, it’s unclear which specific green energy proposals are being considered as alternatives to CEPP. Some Democrats have floated the idea of setting a carbon tax that would charge firms based on their greenhouse gas emissions. However, Manchin has also opposed that idea in the past.
When asked earlier this week about the notion of a carbon tax in the final spending bill, Manchin said it was "not on the board at all right now."