U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) has criticized Sen. Joe Manchin's refusal to continue negotiations of Senate Democrats' proposed climate change legislation, as well as ongoing Republican opposition to any measure to address the global crisis.
News broke Thursday evening that Manchin, of West Virginia, told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he'll oppose Senate Democrats' proposals for climate and energy investments and higher taxes on the rich and large corporations.
With the Senate currently split 50/50, and Republicans opposing en masse most attempts by Democrats to pass meaningful legislation, Manchin's vote is needed by the Democrats to pass the $1 trillion funding package.
Manchin earned his fortune from a coal business in West Virginia and receives more donations from the oil and gas companies than any other senator. He is siding with the Republicans, many of whom back the continued use of fossil fuels despite worldwide temperatures reaching record-breaking levels, drawing the ire of Sen. Smith.
“It’s infuriating and nothing short of tragic that Senator Manchin is walking away, again, from taking essential action on climate and clean energy," Smith responded Friday.
"The world is literally burning up while he joins every single Republican to stop strong action to cut emissions and speed the transition to clean energy for the survival of our planet, clean air and health, energy independence, and lower energy prices."
"One senator should not have the power to stop the progress we desperately need on the climate crisis," she continued. "The fight isn’t over, and I’m going to work like hell to elect Democrats who will get the job done.”
President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders had hoped to see a sweeping package pass Congress by August to address a range of party priorities, the Associated Press reports. He's also pushing for Democrats to increase their majority in the Senate in the mid-terms to dilute the power of Manchin and Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema.
Manchin says he would support a package if it's limited to a cap on pharmaceutical prices and extending federal subsidies for health care coverage.
He says he's uneasy about passing the climate elements of the bill because it could worsen inflation, despite some experts arguing the inflationary impact of the bill would be limited partly because climate investments would be offset by tax hikes on the rich.
BMTN Note: Weather events in isolation can't always be pinned on climate change, but the broader trend of increasingly severe weather and record-breaking extremes seen in Minnesota and across the globe can be attributed directly to the rapidly warming climate caused by human activity. The IPCC has warned that Earth is "firmly on track toward an unlivable world," and says greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5C, which would prevent the most catastrophic effects on humankind. You can read more here.