COVID-19 Relief Bill Passes without Frivolous Green Baggage

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The Senate late in the evening of March 25 finally passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill by a 96-0 vote. The House of Representatives passed the bill by voice vote on March 27. The massive final bill includes none of the renewable energy subsidies or mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that I discussed last week.

The attempt by the climate-industrial complex (with help from environmental pressure groups and broad support from Democrats in Congress) to add any handouts for themselves to the economic relief package provoked furious opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other leading Senate Republicans. On the Senate floor, McConnell asked rhetorically, “Are you kidding me? This is the moment to debate new regulations that have nothing whatsoever to do with this crisis? Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the ‘Green New Deal.’”

I don’t think the blowback against adding frivolous green energy provisions to the emergency relief bill would have been so strong or as successful if it had not been for the intervention by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). When the Senate package appeared to be stalled over the weekend, Pelosi announced that House Democrats would produce their own bill, which they quickly did.

Pelosi’s bill was a wish list of hard left demands, including large parts of the Green New Deal. President Donald J. Trump made it clear, “There is no way I am going to sign that deal.” My CEI colleague Pat Michaels in his commentary on the bill calls it an outrage.

The House Democrats’ bill was so radical and most of it had so little to do with addressing the current health crisis or the resulting economic crisis that it discredited the more modest attempts to add irrelevant wind and solar tax credits to the bill in the Senate. That is the happy ending to this chapter, but it is not the end of the story. Democrats in Congress and their allies are already talking about all the climate and green energy provisions that should be in the next stimulus bill.

To take only one example, 45 House Democrats, led by Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ.), sent a letter on March 26 that urges House and Senate leaders “to prioritize the needs and recovery of environmental justice communities.” Their wish list of new and additional spending totals over $70 billion.