In Washington D.C., Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is being labeled as needless spending by Republicans, who also dislike the corporate tax hikes. Progressives are worried that key climate provisions of the plan will be lost due to the Democrats’ slim majority in both chambers. Colorado’s congressional delegation is similarly divided.
Last week at a press conference hosted by Climate Power, a national environmental advocacy group, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) praised Biden’s proposed plan, specifically its dedication to promoting clean energy jobs and research.
“And so all of this, to me, is a reminder that climate change isn’t some distant threat for someone else in the future to deal with,” Bennet said. “It’s an immediate threat that is already inflicting damage to Colorado and to our economy. And that’s why in my state, climate is not a partisan issue. We view it as a reality and as an existential threat to our Western economy and our way of life.”
Biden’s proposal would provide Colorado with funding for affordable housing, improved resources for veterans, more clean energy jobs, and fixing bridges and roads. The American Society for Civil Engineers gave Colorado a C- on its 2020 infrastructure report card.
According to a fact sheet provided by the White House about the American Jobs Plan, from 2010 to 2020, Colorado has experienced 30 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $50 billion in damages. Biden’s plan includes funding for resilient infrastructure and community recovery.
However, not all of Colorado’s elected representatives in Washington feel the same way as Bennet about the plan. U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said the plan has nothing to do with infrastructure, falsely alleging that only 6% of the proposal is invested in infrastructure.
The Washington Post and other fact-checkers have debunked this claim, but that did not stop U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) from proposing her own infrastructure bill in May and deriding Biden’s plan in a press release announcing her bill.
“President Biden calls everything under the sun infrastructure, but only 6% of his $2.3 trillion so-called infrastructure plan goes to roads and bridges,” Boebert said in the release. “The rest goes to climate change, increasing government bureaucracy, and unrelated liberal wish-list items.”
During a Fox News appearance in May, Buck — who has taken just under half a million dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry — directly criticized the American Jobs Plan as needless spending.
“[The American Jobs Plan] is far too much spending and it’s not directed at any of the problems that it’s intended to be,” Buck said. “It is a Green New Deal spending bill. It is a spending bill that will further hurt our ability to be energy independent in this country. It is a spending bill we can’t afford.”
In the same appearance, Buck warned of the potential consequences of pushing tax hikes on corporations, even though U.S. voters seem to favor the American Jobs Plan.
“People don’t feel the immediate impact of the spending,” Buck said. “But the day will come when the American economy will collapse and the world economy will collapse. And at that point, we will feel the real effects of this irresponsibility.”
In a June tele-town hall hosted by Conservation Colorado, Environment Colorado, and Green Latinos — all Colorado-based environmental advocacy groups — U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) supported prioritizing climate change in Biden’s plan.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in not only Colorado’s but America’s future and to do it in a way that confronts climate change head-on,” Hickenlooper said.
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) also supported the plan in a June tele-town hall hosted by those same groups. Crow also mentioned how he hopes Republicans would support the plan too.
“The American Jobs Plan will allow us to build the clean energy grid and the clean energy economy,” Crow said. “It will help us transition to renewable energy in the way we need to in the next decade. We need support from both parties.”
The proposed plan has changed since it was first announced in April due to extended negotiations the White House had with Republican lawmakers. Ultimately, the GOP offered to support only 15% of the American Jobs Plan’s original cost.
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While these negotiations reportedly made some Democrats anxious about the White House possibly cutting too much from its original proposal, Bennet seemed hopeful that key climate provisions will remain part of an infrastructure bill.
“I feel very confident that … we’re going to pass a strong a large infrastructure bill with a strong climate component out of the US Senate,” Bennet said. “In fact, I think that’s the only infrastructure bill we can pass out of the Senate.”
On Friday a group of bipartisan senators put forward an infrastructure plan that would cost around $1 trillion, down from Biden’s initial proposal of $2.3 trillion for his jobs plan. Democrats are also looking for ways to pass pieces of Biden’s plan in smaller bills.