No Climate, No Deal

In his 2020 campaign, President Joe Biden demonstrated a clear and ambitious proposal to tackle the climate crisis — his famous $2 trillion climate plan. The plan appealed to millions of voters and included critical climate actions such as transitioning to a 100% clean energy economy and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. What grabbed the attention of many voters specifically, though, was the intersectionality between climate change, jobs, and racial inequality. 

The Biden administration incorporated many voter priorities coming out of 2020 in this climate plan, like labor justice in clean energy jobs, tackling the wealth gap by standing up to polluters that harm low-income and communities of color, and investing in clean energy access for all. These goals helped setPresident Biden on his path to victory as voters turned out to the polls in massive numbers, winning by the most number of popular votes in American history. The climate bill has since developed into a new proposal known as the infrastructure package or The American Jobs Plan

However, President Biden’s infrastructure package is a dramatic change from his 2020 climate plan, due in large part to bipartisan negotiations in the United States Senate aimed at dismantling climate priorities. 

What Was Included in the Original Infrastructure Proposal?

Before significant negotiations, the infrastructure bill included crucial provisions for tackling the climate crisis. Provisions including but not limited to: clean energy, childcare, jobs, and a promise to a 100% transition away from fossil fuels.

This bill appealed to activists nationwide — but the financial aspects were really an eye opener for economists, politicians and corporations. President Biden planned to raise corporate taxes to 25 percent to fund his infrastructure bill (after 2017 tax cuts on the wealthy, the rate was lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent). Without this increase, massive corporations are paying little to nothing in taxes. President Biden’s intentions to raise these taxes were to ensure that corporations were not paying little to no income tax, and “pay their fair share,” and to prevent offshore shipping of jobs in these corporations. 

President Biden’s proposals in the infrastructure bill prioritized climate and had steady approval ratings in regard to his goal of investing in clean energy infrastructure and improving the quality of life for millions of Americans affected by pollution and gentrification. 

The bill also aimed to dramatically improve the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure with a transition to clean energy and good, green jobs to combat the high unemployment rates caused by COVID-19 lockdowns. It would have  funded upgrades to infrastructure, rebuilt bridges, fixed roads, and provided cleaner water systems for millions of Americans. Furthermore, the bill included the modernization of public transit and thousands of electric vehicle charging stations, investments in airports, seaports, schools, hospitals, community colleges, and childcare, all while prioritizing the need for clean energy rather than fossil fuels. 

Original Infrastructure Bill Provisions (%)

  • Manufacturing Jobs
  • Homecare Workers
  • Quality of Life & Education
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Clean Water Infrastructure
  • Tax Plan
  • Resilience
  • Power Infrastructure
  • Transportation

Manufacturing Jobs: 23.1% ǀ Homecare Workers: 19.3% ǀ Quality of Life & Education: 10.3% ǀ Power Infrastructure: 4.8% ǀ Digital Infrastructure: 4.8% ǀ Clean Water Infrastructure: 5.3% ǀ Tax Plan: 0.1% ǀ Resilience: 2.4% ǀ Transportation: 29.9% ǀ Total Funding $2.2 Trillion

Source: FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan. (2021, March 31). The White House.

The original form of this infrastructure bill hit its first roadblock when talks of passing this legislation resulted in a significant decrease in funding from $2.2 trillion to $1.2 trillion. There are many obstacles that this legislation would have to go through in order to pass — including the Senate filibuster and the cooperation of other legislatures to prioritize climate change as a humanitarian and non-partisan issue rather than a political issue. 

The Senate Filibuster and Leaked ExxonMobil Video

Following the 2020 election, Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate with a 50-50 split and Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker. However, there is a Senate filibuster in place, which is a political procedure practiced by members of Congress to withhold a longstanding debate in order to block bills from passing the Senate. 

The filibuster has a deeply racist past, as Senators would stand and talk for hours to block floor votes on anti-lynching legislation during the Civil Rights Era. Senators in the minority tried to overpower votes of the majority that contributed to the roadblocks Congress faced passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2021, however, the filibuster has changed and is a technicality rather than a political procedure of a long verbal standoff debate, but remains a roadblock for legislation. As a result, the filibuster requires a 60 vote threshold on any legislation and some Senators who are the key votes for this infrastructure bill have made their stance against clean energy regulation clear to the public.

Even with the majority, Democrats are unable to pass legislation without some Republican support. Yet when it comes to climate, there are significant conflicts of interest and even potential corruption concerns, which may derail any progress. 

In a leaked video from Greenpeace UK, the public sawExxonMobil’s Senior Director of Federal Relations, Keith McCoy, discussing the company’s involvement in the new ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure bill, detailing its role in  undercutting climate provisions in the legislation. In fact, some key Democratic Senators who have been outspoken of their support of the Senate filibuster are named in this leaked audio. Taking campaign contributions from ExxonMobil, these Senators are among the 21 taking part in the ‘bipartisan’ negotiations, including Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Angus King (D-ME). 

The GOP lawmakers part of these ‘bipartisan’ negotiations are Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkiwski (R-AK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Todd Young (R-IN). These Senators are also known to be outspoken climate change denialists and receive campaign contributions from the oil industry.

The idea of bipartisanship presents itself as something good — but why is it always one sided when different parties take control of Congress? In the fall of 2020, the GOP had a majority in the Senate and confirmed a Supreme Court Justice and passed two coronavirus relief bills without bipartisan negotiations, however, perceptions seem to change once the Democrats have taken over the majority. In fact, there are calls for bipartisanship by the media and members of the GOP, who are the minority. Even though President Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 relief bill was taken to the Senate with bipartisan provisions, including $1,200 stimulus checks for all Americans, no member of the GOP voted in favor of this bill. The reasoning behind the GOP’s refusal to vote for the passage of the popular COVID-19 Relief bill was that $1,200 was too much money for Americans — it was also the reason for lowering the funding for the infrastructure bill to $1.2 trillion.

The bipartisan negotiations of these 21 Senators — all of whom have received campaign contributions from oil companies, are outspoken climate denialists, and have proven to likely vote ‘NAY’ for an infrastructure bill with clean energy provisions — have taken out crucial parts of the bill. 

Comparing the Original and Bipartisan Infrastructure Bills

The comparison of the original and bipartisan infrastructure bills in the chart below shows a watered-down version of the essential policies needed to significantly decarbonize the economy by 2050. Not only does the latest bill leave out clean energy provisions, but it also omits plans for childcare, healthcare, and the creation of green jobs. More significantly, it scraps The Made in America Tax Plan, which was set to hold corporations accountable for the pollution and the poverty caused by their operation and the widening of the wealth gap. 

Comparing the original and bipartisan infrastructure bills:

Total Funding

Original Infrastructure Bill

$2.2 Trillion

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Framework

$579 Trillion


Original Infrastructure Bill


  • Repairing roads and bridges 
  • Modernizing public transit 
  • Investing in reliable passenger and freight rail service 
  • Creating good jobs electrifying vehicles 
  • Improve ports, waterways and airports
  • Redress historic inequalities and build the future of transportation
  • Invest resource wisely to deliver infrastructure projects that produce real results

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Framework


  • Roads, bridges, major projects
  • Safety
  • Public transit
  • Passenger and Freight Rail
  • EV infrastructure
  • Electric busses/transit
  • Reconnecting communities
  • Airports
  • Ports & Waterways
  • Infrastructure FInancing


Original Infrastructure Bill


Making Infrastructure More Resilient

  • Safeguard critical infrastructure and services, and defend vulnerable communities
  • Maximize the resilience of land and water resources to protect communities and the environment

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Framework


Proposed Financing Sources for New Investments

  • Water infrastructure
  • Broadband Infrastructure
  • Environmental remediation
  • Power infrastructure including grid authority
  • Western Water Storage
  • Resilience


Original Infrastructure Bill

Made in America Tax Plan

$2M over the next 15 years and fund mostly one-time investments

  • Set the Corporate Tax Rate at 25%
  • Discourage offshoring by strengthening the Global Minimum Tax for U.S. Multinational Corporations
  • End the Race to the Bottom Around the World
  • Prevent U.S. Corporations from inverting or claiming tax havens as their residence
  • Deny Companies Expense Deductions for Offshoring Jobs and Credit Expenses for Onshoring
  • Eliminate a Loophole for Intellectual Property that Encourages Offshoring Jobs and Invest in Effective R&D Incentives
  • Enact A Minimum Tax on Large Corporations’ Book Income
  • Eliminate Tax Preferences for Fossil Fuels and Make Sure Polluting Industries Pay for Environmental Clean Up
  • Ramping Up Enforcement Against Corporations

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Framework

Proposed Financing Sources for New Investments


  • Reduce IRS tax cap
  • Unemployment Insurance Program Integrity
  • Redirect unused unemployment insurance relief funds
  • Repurpose unused relief funds from 2020 emergency legislation
  • State and local investments in broadband infrastructure
  • Extend expiring customs user fees
  • Reinstate superfund fees for chemicals
  • 5G Spectrum auction proceeds
  • Extend mandatory sequester 
  • Strategic petroleum reserve sale
  • Public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment
  • Microeconomic impact of infrastructure investments

Sections from the original infrastructure bill that have been removed from the bipartisan bill:

Clean Water infrastructure


  • Replace 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines
  • Upgrade and modernize America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, tackle new contaminants, and support clean water infrastructure across rural America

Revitalize America’s Digital Infrastructure


  • High-speed internet
  • Promote transparency and competition for internet providers
  • Reduce cost of broadband internet services and promote widespread adoption

Recognize America’s Power Infrastructure


  • Build a more resilient electric transmission system
  • Spur jobs modernizing power generation and delivering clean electricity
  • Put the energy industry to work plugging orphan oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines
  • Remediate and redevelop idle real property, and spit the buildout of critical physical, social and civic infrastructure in distressed and disadvantaged communities
  • Build next generation industrie ind distressed communities
  • Mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers

Improving the Quality of Life


  • Produce, preserve, and retrofit more than a million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy efficient, and electrified housing units
  • Build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low-and middle-income homebuyers
  • Eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies
  • Address longstanding public housing capital needs
  • Put union building trade workers to work upgrading homes and businesses to save families


  • Modernize public schools
  • Investing in community college infrastructure
  • Upgrade childcare facilities and build new supply in high need areas
  • Upgrade veteran hospitals and federal buildings

Jobs & Service for Homecare Workers


  • Expand access to long-term care under Medicaid
  • Put in place an infrastructure to create good middle class jobs with a free and fair choice to join a union
  • Empower and protect workers who are provided with good jobs created through this bill

Investing in Manufacturing Jobs and Increasing the Workforce


  • Invest in R&D and the technologies in the future
  • Advance U.S. leadership in critical technology and upgrade America’s research infrastructure
  • Establish the United States as a leader in climate science, innovation and R&D
  • Eliminate racial and gender inequalities in research and development in science, technology, engineering and math
  • Strengthen manufacturing supply chains for critical goods
  • Protect Americans from future pandemics
  • Jumpstart clean energy manufacturing through federal procurement
  • Make it in ALL of America
  • Increase access to capital for domestic manufacturers
  • Create a national network of small business incubators and innovation hubs
  • Partner with rural and Tribal communities to create jobs and economic growth in rural America
  • Fair job creation efforts with next generation training programs
  • Target workforce development opportunities in underserved communities
  • Build the capacity of the existing workforce development and worker protection systems

President Biden’s ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure bill not only neglects to provide benefits to Americans in various provisions, such as clean energy jobs, education, childcare and investments in a clean energy economy, but focuses on getting the funds from the American taxpayers. American taxpayers will be the ones paying for this watered down infrastructure with zero corporate contribution

This ‘bipartisan’ bill will ultimately raise gas prices while privatizing roads. In addition, this legislation will reinstate superfund fees for chemicals in the Environmental Protection Agency, extend mandatory COVID-19 lockdowns, raise income taxes through the IRS, auction 5G Spectrum internet to those who can afford it, and continue to harm communities through the impact of fossil fuels. Not only will communities already affected by climate change continue to endure the harms of pollution, but they will also incur drastic rises in taxes, gas prices and unemployment.

On June 24th, President Biden announced his endorsement of this new bipartisan bill. He stood in front of the White House with Senators Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT) and others, exclaiming: “We have a deal.” The announcement set off red flags for voters, activists, and social media circles who criticized the lack of diversity among the group of senators as not representing those communities most impacted by climate change. 

How Environmental Groups Are Reacting

Following President Biden’s endorsement of the infrastructure bill and the ongoing blocking of legislation by the Senate filibuster, activists responded with protests across the U.S. Activists also rallied for the Green New Deal in order to capture the attention of President Biden and Congress, emphasizing the power of their votes to get these leaders elected into office.

On June 21, Sunrise Movement activists walked from New Orleans to Houston in a 400  mile march to rally around Senator Ted Cruz’s front yard. Eight were arrested. Ted Cruz, well known for his reputation as a climate denier, also outspokenly supports the Senate filibuster and received media attention for fleeing Texas during the worst winter storm Texans faced, and died as a result of. Youth activists from Sunrise demanded that Senator Cruz vote to end the Senate filibuster and pass climate policy. 

New York City activists also took action at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It was a literal “wake up call” as they woke up Senator Schumer to demand he stand up for climate justice, racial justice, clean energy jobs, and a drastic cut to greenhouse gas emissions by 2030

Activists from the Sunrise Movement and other environmental organizations are marching in Washington D.C. with the slogan “No Climate, No Deal” in order to get President Biden to align with what his voters expect with climate change as a top priority. With support from prominent and outspoken members of Congress, such as Representatives Jamal Bowman (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Cori Bush (D-MO), Sunrise Movement rallied around the District of Columbia for climate justice.

The Power of Reconciliation: What is it and Why is it Important?

Reconciliation is a term that’s recently been used widely due to the COVID-19 relief bill passed in 2021. It is a procedure used only for legislation involving budgetary means, and can be used to pass the infrastructure bill. The power of reconciliation gives a simple majority vote to pass any legislation, it was used to pass the COVID-19 relief bill with only 51 votes.

Nonetheless, activists and concerned voters are demanding real action on climate, even if that is through reconciliation for the infrastructure bill as it pertains to the budget. Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders, is getting a push from voters to enact reconciliation and pass the infrastructure bill with climate change as a priority. Voters demand “No Climate, No Deal. No Reconciliation, No Deal.” 

With backlash from activists and members of the legislative branch, President Biden backtracked on his endorsement of the bipartisan infrastructure bill as of June 28th. Biden has since stated that this bill will not be passed without provisions to provide equitable jobs and a clean energy transition. Biden also signaled that he will sign both bills, meaning the bipartisan bill and the bill with the clean energy provisions if it goes through reconciliation. However, Congress passed the bipartisan bill on Thursday.

The latest instance of the harmful impacts of fossil fuels on our climate and environment took place over Independence Day weekend, when a pipeline burst in the Gulf of Mexico, setting a huge fire in the ocean. Images of the flames opened eyes for many people on social media and the blaze is still burning under the control of Mexican authorities. Over the week, a 13-story condo collapsed in Miami, with evidence to suggest a flood in the garage due to sea-level rise might have contributed to the building’s instability. The catastrophic disasters have already begun. The U.S. and the world isn’t doing enough to fight climate change — but one thing is clear: time is running out. The time for climate action is now. 

Featured Image: Courtesy of Even Weber