Posts tagged with "President Joe Biden"

Trump throws hissy fit as GOP moves forward on infrastructure deal

July 30, 2021

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Senate Republicans on Thursday, July 29,  after the upper chamber voted to take up debate on a bipartisan infrastructure packageaccusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and “RINOs,” short for “Republicans in name only,” of surrendering to Democrats, reports The Hill.

“Under the weak leadership of Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans continue to lose,” Trump said in a statement. “He lost Arizona, he lost Georgia, he ignored Election Fraud and he doesn’t fight. 

“Now he’s giving Democrats everything they want and getting nothing in return,” the former president continued. “No deal is better than a bad deal. Fight for America, not for special interests and Radical Democrats. RINOs are ruining America, right alongside Communist Democrats.”

The former president’s attack on his party’s Senate leadership came a day after lawmakers voted 67-32 to greenlight a debate on the infrastructure deal, which includes $1.2 trillion for projects such as roads, bridges, public transit and broadband internet. The $1.2 trillion includes $579 billion in new spending.

While the infrastructure deal still faces a series of legislative hurdles, Wednesday’s vote was seen as a major win for President Joe Biden, who had championed the negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators.

“This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function, deliver, and do big things. As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway, we will once again transform America and propel us into the future,” Biden said in a statement. 

The vote is also likely to raise questions about Trump’s influence over the policymaking process in his post-presidency. Prior to Wednesday’s vote, he had pushed Republicans to reject a deal with Democrats, saying that the compromise is “a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb.”

“It shouldn’t be done,” he said. “It sets an easy glidepath for Dems to then get beyond what anyone thought was possible in future legislation.”

Research contact: @thehill

Biden to target consolidation and aggressive pricing in rail and maritime industries with executive order

July 9, 2021

The Biden Administration will push regulators to confront consolidation and perceived anticompetitive pricing in the ocean shipping and railroad industries as part of a broad effort to blunt the power of big business to dominate industries, according to a person familiar with the situation, The Wall Street Journal reports.

As part of a sweeping executive order expected this week, the Administration will ask the Federal Maritime Commission and the Surface Transportation Board to combat what it calls a pattern of consolidation and aggressive pricing that has made it onerously expensive for American companies to transport goods to market.

The Administration says the relatively small number of major players in the ocean shipping trade and in the U.S. freight rail business has enabled companies to charge unreasonable fees.

In the case of the seven Class 1 freight railroads, consolidation has given rail carriers monopoly power over sections of the country where theirs are the only freight tracks, the person said.

According to the Journal, the executive order will encourage the STB to take up a longstanding proposed rule on so-called reciprocal or competitive switching—the practice whereby shippers served by a single railroad can request bids from a nearby competing railroad if service is available.

The competitor railroad would pay access fees to the monopoly railroad, but could win the shipper’s business by offering a lower price, using the rival railroad’s tracks and property.

The STB proposed a competitive switching rule in 2016, but hasn’t yet acted on it.

“The consolidation brought about much-needed rationalization in the system 25 years ago, but the net result is a lot of shippers who are subject to a market-dominant railroad,” said a government official briefed on the White House’s proposal for the STB.

But a move to mandate switching would guarantee a battle with the freights and the railroad trade association, the Association of American Railroads, which has long opposed the policy.

“Competition remains fierce across freight providers, and any proposal mandating forced switching would put railroads—an environmentally friendly option that invests $25 billion annually in infrastructure—at an untold disadvantage,” Ian Jefferies, chief executive of the railroad association, said Thursday. “Such a rule would roll back the foundational market-driven principle that keeps the industry viable, reduce network fluidity, and ultimately undermine railroads’ ability to serve customers at a time when freight demands have dramatically increased.”

The call to crack down on ocean carriers and freights is one facet in a multipronged executive order that will be one of President Biden’s most sweeping unilateral moves on economic policy to date, the Journal says.

The Democratic president is trying to blunt big business while introducing more competition in areas across the economy. The result, the administration contends, will be more leverage for smaller companies and individual workers, and less ability for a few huge companies to dictate terms for the economy at large.

Among other things, the executive order will call on the Federal Trade Commission to adopt rules that curtail noncompete agreements. The White House said roughly half of U.S. private-sector businesses use noncompete agreements, affecting an estimated 30 million people.

“He believes that if someone offers you a better job, you should be able to take it,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

The executive order will also call on the FTC to ban unnecessary occupational licensing requirements.

“While occupational licensing can serve important health and safety concerns, unnecessary or overly burdensome licensing can lock people out of jobs,” Psaki said, adding that the White House estimates about 30% of jobs in the U.S. require a license.

What’s more, in its actions targeting the transportation sector, the administration is highlighting what it calls the dangers of consolidation. Three alliances control 80% of the shipping market, the person familiar with the executive order said.

The White House says that dominance has come at a cost for American exporters, allowing the companies to extract higher rates. For U.S. importers, the consolidation has given carriers leverage to raise fees like those for demurrage, essentially late fees on shipments that aren’t picked up from freight terminals on time.

The order will ask the maritime commission to crack down on such fees, and to take all other steps to protect American exporters from high fees. The order also asks the commission to work with the Justice Department to enforce its actions. The commission and the Justice Department are expected to sign a new memorandum of understanding to improve their cooperation on such investigations soon, the person said.

Maritime Commission Chairman Dan Maffei said recently that the commission’s ability to address issues such as container shortages and surging rates may be limited if the cause is the surge in demand as the global economy rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic. The commission is limited in its options unless it finds evidence of intentional manipulation of prices, he has said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Bidens visit Florida as confirmed death toll in Surfside building collapse rises to 18

July 2, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden visited Surfside, Florida, on July 1, where search and rescue operations were paused overnight—due to possible danger of a further cave-in at the site of a partially collapsed condominium building, VOA News reports.

The couple arrived at nearby Miami International Airport aboard Air Force One after leaving the White House early Thursday. At a news conference on the same morning, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava explained the decision to halt search and rescue efforts.

“We were forced to halt operations on the collapse in the early hours of the morning due to structural concerns about the standing structure. We’re doing everything that we can to ensure the safety of our first responders is paramount and to continue our search and rescue operations as soon as it is safe to do so,” Levine Cava said. 

Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky highlighted the dangerous nature of the day-and-night effort to try to find someone who may still be alive underneath the rubble and explained the need to suspend search and rescue efforts.

“On the south side of the structure, near the north and south corners of the building, it could cause additional failure to the building,” he said at the Thursday news conference.

Cominsky said Wednesday teams were using search dogs, video, and sonar—and. in particular, were looking for signs of voids within the rubble where a person might be found.

Local officials said late Wednesday the number of dead from the collapse had risen to 18, including two children. Levine Cava announced the latest toll in a series of tweets late Wednesday, including that 145 people remained unaccounted for.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the President and First Lady would be meeting with family members “who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy,” as well as thanking first responders and rescue teams.

When asked if the Bidens would go to the building site itself, Psaki said those details were not yet decided, but that the president had stressed that every part of his visit needs to be coordinated with officials on the ground.

“There is still an ongoing search and rescue effort on the ground, and we want to ensure we’re not doing anything to pull away from those resources,” she told reporters at a Wednesday briefing.

Research contact: @VOANews

 

‘Not going to happen’: Progressives slam McConnell effort to sabotage reconciliation bill

June 30, 2021

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is actively working to undermine the Democratic majority’s emerging infrastructure strategy by demanding the separation of the White House-backed bipartisan deal from a broader reconciliation package—a non-starter for progressives who say they will not support the former without simultaneous passage of the latter, Raw Story reports.

“It’s not going to happen,” Representative Ro Khanna (D-California) told NBC News on June 28, referring to McConnell’s request. “There is no way a bipartisan deal passes the House without a vote the same day on a Senate-passed reconciliation that has bold climate provisions.”

In a statement on Monday, McConnell called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Caliornia) to “walk back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass” a sweeping reconciliation package; which the newly re-elected Kentucky Republican referred to as “unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism.”

According to Raw Story, along with other members of his caucus, McConnell—despite being well aware of the Democrats’ two-track approach—voiced outrage last week after President Joe Biden said he would refuse to sign a bipartisan infrastructure bill that is not accompanied by separate legislation that addresses other Democratic priorities, from investments in green energy to child care to paid family leave. The Democratic package would pass through reconciliation, an arcane budget process that is exempt from the 60-vote legislative filibuster that McConnell has frequently wielded to stymie the majority party’s agenda.

Biden soon softened his position amid Republican backlash, saying in a statement Saturday that he intends to “pursue the passage” of the $579 billion bipartisan measure “with vigor” and will sign it if it reaches his desk.

But Biden’s shift was not enough for McConnell, who said the president’s vow will amount to a “hollow gesture” unless Schumer and Pelosi take the same position.

On Thursday, Pelosi said the House won’t hold a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate also passes the broader reconciliation package—a stance that won applause from progressive lawmakers, who are now urging the Democratic leadership to hold firm in the face of what they view as McConnell’s bad-faith sabotage effort.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pointed to McConnell’s remark last month that “100%” of his focus is on “stopping this new administration.”

“The last person who should have a say on our agenda is Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell,” Jayapal tweeted. “We’re going to go big and bold on our reconciliation package because that’s what people voted us in to do.”

Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee—which is headed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)—are expected to hold a call this week to discuss the size and scope of the nascent reconciliation bill.

Sanders is reportedly pushing for a roughly $6 trillion package that includes Medicare expansion, significant spending on climate action, and other investments. The youth-led Sunrise Movement is demanding that Democrats to go even further by embracing a $10 trillion in climate and infrastructure spending over the next decade.

But, in order to pass, any reconciliation bill must win the vote of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WestVirginia), who indicated over the weekend that he would not be willing to support a package larger than $2 trillion, according to Raw Story.

In a tweet on Monday, Sanders addressed those suggesting his reconciliation offer is too pricey.

“For those who say the budget framework I proposed costs ‘too much,’ what would you cut?” the Vermont senator asked. “Combating climate change? Childcare? Universal Pre-K? Paid family and medical leave? Dental, hearing, and vision [for Medicare recipients]? Housing? Long-term home healthcare? Child Tax Credit? Waiting…”

Research contact: @RawStoryRaw S

60 Catholic Democrats urge Bishops not to block Joe Biden from Communion over abortion rights

June 22, 2021

Sixty Catholic Democrats have penned a letter urging the Roman Catholic Bishops of the United States not to block President Joe Biden from receiving Communion because of his progressive abortion views, Newsweek magazine reports.

They base their case on two building blocks of American democracy:

  • The first clause in the Bill of Rightsstates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
  • The “establishment clause” of the First Amendment of the Constitution“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”—often is interpreted to require separation of church and state.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the letter reads. “The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”

Congressional Democrats continued, “No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings—including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants.”

The letter comes after the group of bishops overwhelmingly voted to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, on Friday, June 18.

The decision, aimed at the nation’s second Catholic president, was approved by a vote of 73% in favor and 24% opposed during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Biden, who has regularly attended Mass throughout his life, has embodied a liberal Christianity less focused on sexual politics and more on racial inequality, climate change,  and poverty.

“To pursue a blanket denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there,” the 60 Democrats wrote.

The list of signers include Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joaquin Castro, Marie Newman and Ted Lieu, among others.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Americans eager to begin celebrating Juneteenth as a federal holiday on Saturday

June 18, 2021

On Saturday, June 19, Americans will mark Juneteenth National Independence Day as their 12th legal public holiday—and the first new one since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983 by then-President Ronald Reagan, CNBC reports.

President Joe Biden was set to sign a bill on Thursday  establishing Juneteenth, the date marking the end of slavery in the United States, as a federal holiday. The 3:30 p.m. (EDT) signing event at the White House came two days before Juneteenth itself, which falls on June 19 each year.

Juneteenth marks the date that the last enslaved African Americans were granted their freedom. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers led by General Gordon Granger arrived in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3, officially ending slavery in the state.

CNBC notes that the final act of liberation came months after the Confederate army’s surrender ended the Civil War, and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The holiday legislation passed this week with overwhelming support in both chambers of Congress. The Senate approved the bill unanimously  on June 15 and the House passed it in a 415-14 vote.

The Juneteenth legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts). The House version, sponsored by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) was co-sponsored by 166 lawmakers.

The only votes against the bill came from Republicans. On the House floor before the vote, some GOP lawmakers complained about the name of the holiday, and others expressed concern about the cost of giving the federal workforce another day off. Some also railed against Democrats for pushing the bill to a vote without first allowing committees to examine the legislation and offer amendments.

Still, most House Republicans, even those who objected to parts of the bill, ended up voting for it.

The 14 no votes were entered into the record by the following Representatives: p. Mo Brooks (R-Alabam, Andy Biggs ( R-Arizona), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tennessee). Tom Tiffany (R-Wisconsin),  Doug LaMalfa (R-California), Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), Tom McClintock (R-California), Matt Rosendale (R-Montana), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), and Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia).

Research contact: @CNBC

Southern comfort: Biden Administration taps private sector to invest in Central America

May 28, 2021

On May 27, Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to unveil the agreements of 12 companies and organizations–among them, MasterCard and Microsoft—to invest in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as part of the Administration’s efforts to deal with a surge of migrants from Central America at the U.S. southern border, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Administration believes that aid to Central America will bolster economies south of the border—and that better conditions in that area will discourage surges in immigration to the USA.

Among the companies involved:

  • Microsoft  has agreed to expand Internet access to as many as three million people in the region by July 2022, as well as to establish community centers to provide digital skills to women and youths;
  • Mastercard will seek to bring five million people in the region who currently lack banking services into the financial system, and to give one million micro and small businesses access to electronic banking.
  • Chobani has agreed to bring its incubator program for local entrepreneurs to Guatemala; and
  • Nespresso, a unit of Nestlé SA, plans to begin buying some of its coffee from El Salvador and Honduras with a minimum regional investment of $150 million by 2025.

Democratic and Republican administrations have struggled to find long-term solutions to handling surges in migrants from Central America, many of whom say they are driven by poverty and violence in their home countries. The region was hit hard last year by two disastrous hurricanes.

According to the Journal, Biden Administration officials have said the aim in part is for greater private-sector involvement to outlast shifts in policy and government aid between administrations— reducing over time the motivations for migrants to make the often dangerous journey to the U.S. border.

The total number of illegal border crossings this year is on pace to hit a two-decade high; and a record number of unaccompanied minors crossed the border illegally in March, followed by a slight decline in April.

President Joe. Biden has delegated to Vice President Harris diplomatic efforts with Mexico and the three countries known as the Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. She is scheduled to make her first foreign trip to Mexico and Guatemala next month.

Republicans have criticized Harris over the Administration’s overall handling of immigration and have chided her for not yet visiting the border. White House officials have said her role is limited to diplomatic efforts, with departments such as Homeland Security and Health and Human Services in charge of dealing with migrants crossing into the United States.

While leading a recent GOP delegation to visit the border, Representative James Comer (R-Kentucky) said more government investments in the region wouldn’t deter migrants from making the journey to the U.S. “We’ve been giving foreign aid to a lot of those countries for decades, and it’s only gotten worse,” he said.

However, Harris has said that private-sector investment along with help from nonprofits and the United Nations could speed up progress in the Northern Triangle. “We must think beyond government,” she said in a speech earlier this month to the Council of the Americas, a business group that focuses on economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere.

She was expected to call on other companies and organizations on Thursday to invest in public health access, food security, financial inclusion, clean energy, education, and workforce development in the region, working through the State Department.

Research contact: @WSJ

Taking ‘extraordinary measures,’ White House backs suspending patents on vaccines

May 7, 2021

The Biden Administration came out on Wednesday, May5, in support of waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines—thereby, siding with international efforts to bolster production amid concerns about vaccine access in developing nations, The New York Times reports.

Under former President Trump, the United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend some of the world economic body’s intellectual property protections—enabling drugmakers worldwide to gain access to the closely guarded trade secrets of how the vaccines have been made.

However, the Times notes, President Biden had come under increasing pressure to throw his support behind the proposal, drafted by India and South Africa and backed by many congressional Democrats.

Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative, announced the Administration’s position on Wednesday afternoon, as the pandemic continued to spiral in India and South America.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in a statement. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”

Support from the White House is not a guarantee that a waiver will be adopted. The European Union has also been standing in the way, and changes to international intellectual property rules require unanimous agreement. Tai said the United States would participate in negotiations at the World Trade Organization over the matter, but that they would “take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved.”

Standing against her will be the pharmaceutical industry, which responded angrily to the extraordinary decision. Stephen J. Ubl, the president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), called the announcement “an unprecedented step that will undermine our global response to the pandemic and compromise safety.”

“This decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains and foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines,” he said in a statement, adding that the move would have the effect of “handing over American innovations to countries looking to undermine our leadership in biomedical discovery.”

The pharmaceutical industry has argued that a suspension of patent protections would undermine risk-taking and innovation.

“Who will make the vaccine next time?” Brent Saunders, the former chief executive of Allergan, which is now part of AbbVie, wrote on Twitter.

However, the Times reports, global health activists, who have been pressing for the waiver, praised the Administration’s decision. It is “a truly historic step, which shows that President Biden is committed to being not just an American leader, but a global one,” said Priti Krishtel, an executive director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK).

But the activists said a waiver alone would not increase the world’s vaccine supply. It must be accompanied by a process known as “tech transfer,” in which patent holders supply technical know-how and personnel. Activists also are demanding that Biden use his leverage to ensure that manufacturing is scaled up around the globe, and not just by the pharmaceutical companies that now hold the patents.

“Handing needy countries a recipe book without the ingredients, safeguards and sizable work force needed will not help people waiting for the vaccine,” Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, the president and chief executive of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), said in a statement. “Handing them the blueprint to construct a kitchen that — in optimal conditions — can take a year to build will not help us stop the emergence of dangerous new Covid variants.”

Shares of the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax dropped on Wednesday afternoon as news broke of the Biden administration’s decision.

Research contact: @nytimes

Poll: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are optimistic after Biden’s first 100 days

May 4, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden completed his first 100 days in office on Thursday, April 29—and the nation now is more optimistic about the coming year, according to findings of a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) are optimistic about the direction of the country, the poll indicated. The research was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel.

The last time the country came close to that level of optimism about the coming year was in December 2006 during the administration of President George W. Bush—when 61% said they were optimistic about the direction in which the country was headed, according to previous ABC News/Washington Post polls.

Shortly before the 2016 election catapulted Donald Trump into the Oval Office, only 42% of Americans were optimistic about the future; compared to 52% who were pessimistic.

But there are some warning lights flashing for the White House. Biden is betting on a lofty agenda to maintain momentum and set up Democrats for success in next year’s midterms, while the GOP is hoping that voters perceive an overreach and the president’s policies become an electoral anchor.

Only a slim majority (52%) think the federal government should spend to revitalize the economy, even if it raises taxes—including 80% of Democrats and 54% of Independents. The question of government spending and taxes largely divides Americans, with 47% saying taxes should stay at the same level, even at the expense of the economy—including 78% of Republicans.

After more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country, roughly one-third of Americans (36%) still remain pessimistic about the country’s future under Biden.

Only about one-quarter of Americans (23%) think the country has become more united since Biden took office. Among this group, an overwhelming 87% give Biden credit. Only 3% assigned credit to Republican leaders in Congress, and 10% said both in the poll.

Among the 28% who said the country is more divided, 6 in 10 think Biden is more responsible for the divisions, compared to 34% who say both Biden and Republicans are culpable for sowing division. Only 6% faulted Republicans.

Nearly half of the country (48%) doesn’t see movement on the question of unity since Biden took office—believing the country is neither more united nor more divided. Views on the polarization of the country during Biden’s early tenure fall along party lines—with 95% of Democrats saying the country is either more united (45%) or the same (50%), and 97% of Republicans saying the nation is more divided (65%) or the same (32%).

Biden, who developed a reputation as a moderate over decades in the Senate, has shifted his policy priorities leftward as president. In his address before a joint session of Congress this week, he outlined unprecedented investments for his core priorities, while standing undeterred by sharp Republican resistance. And the Democratic Party appears united behind him: 90% of Democrats approved of his job performance in the latest  poll.

But uncertainty looms over what will be his next legislative achievement, with Biden’s political capital split between his enormous infrastructure bill and plans for gun control, immigration, education and child care.

A slim majority of respondents (51%)to the new survey think Biden is compromising about the right amount with congressional Republican leaders on the most pressing issues. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans (39%) think Biden is doing too little, and only 9% say he is compromising too much.

Republican leaders are viewed more adversely, however. Two-thirds of Americans view GOP leaders in Congress as doing too little to compromise with Biden. Just over 1 in 5 Americans (22%) believe Republicans are doing about the right amount to compromise, and only 10% think they are doing too much.

Biden, for his part, is outperforming his predecessor on this measure. More than half of the country (56%) thought Trump was doing too little to compromise with Democrats in an ABC News/Washington Post poll from September 2017.

Meanwhile, current Republican leaders in Congress are slightly underperforming their Democratic counterparts in the Trump era, when 60% of Americans said the Democrats weren’t doing enough to compromise with Trump.

Research contact: @abcnews

Going down? Biden commits to cutting U.S. emissions by 50% over next decade

April 23, 2021

On April 22, Earth Day, President Joe Biden signaled his Administration’s intention to set aside four years of retrograde national policy by formally pledging the United States to reducing its carbon emissions by at least half (of 2005 levels) over the next decade, Slate reports.

During the opening of a two-day climate summit of world leaders, announced and virtually hosted by the White House, Biden framed the issue not just as a moral obligation, but an economic opportunity, saying, “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” Biden said from the White House. “This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative— a moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.”

In 2019—the most recent year for which complete data are available—U.S. emissions came in roughly 13% below 2005 levels, according to the EPA.

To provide another angle on how far the U.S. still needs to go to reduce its carbon footprint, last year, when much the country essentially did nothing at all—drove less, flew less, moved less—U.S. emissions were barely down.

In fact, Slate notes, U.S. emissions are still only projected to be down less than a quarter—roughly 21 %—for the year compared to the 2005 baseline. Even before four years of Trump, America had a lot of work to do to meet its emission targets. When former President Barack Obama signed the United States on to the Paris accord in 2016, the outgoing Obama administration pledged a 28% reduction in emissions levels by 2025.

“Administration officials said they see multiple paths toward achieving their goals, through a combination of federal policies and action by states, companies and other subnational groups,” The Wall Street Journal reports, adding,. “Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package that includes measures to reduce emissions, such as a proposed standard mandating that the country’s electricity be produced with low-carbon energy sources.”

According to Slate, American climate leadership faces domestic opposition from Republicans, who say that say it’s unfair for the U.S.A. to have to make sometimes difficult cuts, with economic consequences, if other developing nations—most importantly, China—don’t have to do the same.

Research contact: @Slate