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Sense. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jeff Merkley said Monday that it’s time for Biden to take massive unilateral executive action on climate change, even if the Supreme Court likely will eliminate at least some of them as unconstitutional.
Senators said it was time for Biden to take those moves because the senator. Joe Manchin, DW.Va, last week refused to include any climate change legislation in a reconciliation bill Democrats want to pass this month.
With a 50-50 Senate, Democrats need Manchin’s aide for anything to pass along party lines — even when using the reconciliation process to avoid disruption.
“We have a president who campaigned on the climate, who has been constrained by the legislative process, and who is reflecting on his past as a senator,” said Merkley, a Democrat from Orr. “Now he is untied, and he has to go.”
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“President Biden is an optimist, a confident spirit and a very patient man,” said Whitehouse, DR. “That confidence has not been rewarded. I think, I hope, that patience has run out.”
Whitehouse added that some Senate Democrats, who now refuse to rely on anything they can negotiate with Manchin, “are keen to see a really broad, strong, and swift executive action.”
But their calls for Biden to take major action come as the Supreme Court has dealt the EPA’s authority with a heavy loss. In the case of West Virginia v. EPA, the judges ruled that the agency could not pass blanket regulations that could reform entire industries without additional approval from Congress.
“A decision of this magnitude and consequence lies with Congress itself, or an agency operating under the express mandate of that representative body,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the court’s advisory opinion.
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Whitehouse and Merkele acknowledged that ruling would be a challenge. Whitehouse called it “evil” and Merkley accused the court of trying to act like a “super legislature”.
“The court establishes a doctrine that they can use to overturn any regulations they want,” Merkley said, referring to the “principal questions principle,” by which the court ruled in the case.
“We have to live with that, but we can’t sit around in fear of what the court might do,” he added. “Let’s go through each option, and if a few are deleted, they will be deleted, and we will double the rest.”
Whitehouse said he has proposed several options in talks with the White House. Asked if these rulings could be upheld in the Supreme Court, he said, “The greater part of it can, I think.”
We cannot sit down for fear of what the court might do. Let’s go through each option, if a few of them are omitted, they will be deprecated. We will double the rest.
For his part, Manchin defended his decision to reject not only climate and energy appropriations but tax increases in the Democrats’ reconciliation bill due to hyperinflation.
“Political headlines are worthless to the millions of Americans struggling to buy groceries and gas With inflation rising to 9.1%,” Mansion spokesman Sam Runyon said last week. “Senator Manchin believes that it is time for leaders to set aside political agendas, reassess and adapt to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that further fuel the inflationary fire.”
Nor is Manchin ruling out the possibility of some climate action off the table. He said on West Virginia’s MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval that he may be open to passing elements of the climate-energy reconciliation later this year if inflation appears to be slowing.
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But Merkley and Whitehouse don’t want to rely on that. Among the immediate steps Biden could take, Whitehouse said, would be to authorize the Environmental Protection Agency to sequester carbon. Merkley said the president could declare the climate a state of emergency under the National Emergency Act that former President Donald Trump used to redirect money to the border wall.
Merkley said doing so is critical, because it’s not clear when Democrats might hold a tripartite in the House, Senate and White House to pass the climate bill.
“Am I worried that there will be a decade before we have a climate majority? I worry about that,” he said. “We have to use every tool at our disposal, and the tool is certainly now a bold and intense enforcement action.”
Fox News’ Ron Pletzer contributed to this report.