The Hill reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) are pursuing a piece of legislation that would require President Joe Biden to declare climate change a national emergency.
Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), have been urging Biden to do this already. We’ll see why in a bit.
But first, the bill
Called the National Climate Emergency Act, the bill would force President Biden to declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976.
Both Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez have released statements on the bill.
“President Biden has done an outstanding job of prioritizing climate in the first days of his administration, but after years of blatant ignorance from Trump and Congressional republicans, an even larger mobilization is needed,” Blumenauer said.
“We are out of time and excuses,” remarked Ocasio-Cortez in a statement of her own. “Our country is in crisis and, to address it, we will have to mobilize our social and economic resources on a massive scale.”
“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,” she added.
What naming climate change a national emergency would do is give Biden all of the powers that a president gets during national emergencies. One of the most important would be the ability to direct extra funding to areas that he otherwise would not be able to.
According to The Hill, after declaring climate change a national emergency, the bill says that “Biden should invest in major resiliency projects that will help prepare the country’s infrastructure for climate change’s impacts and make investments in clean energy that are socially and racially just.”
Will it pass?
The answer is probably “no.” This same group of progressives attempted to get this bill passed in 2019 to no avail. With the Senate currently split 50 to 50, Ocasio-Cortez and company would have to get 10 senate Republicans on board, which is problematic because the bill would be highly unlikely to even get all Senate Democrats to sign on.
So, the Democrats, like Schumer, are going to have to settle for urging Biden to declare climate change a national emergency on his own. We’ll have to see whether Biden caves in at some point and does so – It’s hard to imagine he is that against the idea considering all of the executive orders that he has already signed.