Groups worry about tapping COVID relief for infrastructure
Organizations representing long-term care facilities are urging lawmakers working on a bipartisan infrastructure plan to avoid dipping into COVID-relief funds to help pay for the roughly $600 billion in new spending sought for the public works buildout.
Buttigieg pitches 'once in a generation' infrastructure fix
Buttigieg says America's infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion and that other countries like China are pulling ahead. It's a disparity that Buttigieg is calling a threat to our collective future in prepared remarks to Congress. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)WASHINGTON – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called for a once in a generation infrastructure investment Thursday that would address a massive backlog in needed improvements for the nation's roads, bridges and transit systems, while also tackling climate change. “A transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill — not the Green New Deal,” said Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, referring to a sweeping Democratic plan to shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels. We can do this.”At the same time, DeFazio said an infrastructure bill will need to focus on the challenges of the 21st century, a nod to climate change.
Pelosi pledges swift work on major infrastructure package
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday pledged swift work by Congress on a job and infrastructure package that will be “fiscally sound,” but said she isn't sure whether the next major item on President Joe Biden’s agenda will attract Republican backing. AdBut work on passing infrastructure legislation in a Senate split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris providing a tiebreaking vote will probably prove more difficult. Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., recently made clear he will block infrastructure legislation if Republicans aren't included. 3 Senate Republican, said he wants to see bipartisan support for an infrastructure legislation. Cost will be a major hurdle in passing an infrastructure plan.
Auto industry urges emissions deal weaker than Obama's
Whether people want them or not, automakers are rolling out multiple new electric vehicle models as the auto industry responds to stricter pollution regulations worldwide and calls to reduce emissions to fight climate change. Asked Friday about the proposal, the White House said discussions with the auto industry on a fuel emissions standard were still early. Under the Obama-era standards, automakers got double credit for fully electric vehicles toward meeting their fuel economy and pollution requirements. AdBiden also has made boosting electric vehicles a top priority. They described credits granted to automakers for electric vehicles as “loopholes” that do little to reduce emissions in the short term.
UN: Too little of recovery spending fights climate change
He said the report highlights missed opportunities, singling out Australia where only 2% of $130 billion in recovery spending is green-oriented. The United States spends about one quarter of its COVID-19 long-term recovery money — a fraction of overall pandemic spending — on green projects. Ad“On the whole so far global green spending does not match the severity of the three planetary crises of climate change, nature loss and pollution,” wrote U.N. AdThe report highlights Norway, Denmark, Finland and Germany spending nearly half or more than half of large recovery packages on green projects. That came despite Trump's repeated dismissal of the science behind climate change and his promotion of petroleum and coal industries.
Biden, Dems prevail as Senate OKs $1.9T virus relief bill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks on Capitol Hill as the Senate works to complete the Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, in Washington, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Ad“This nation has suffered too much for much too long,” Biden told reporters at the White House after the vote. “The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The House relief bill, largely similar to the Senate's, provided $400 weekly benefits through August. That amount would be gradually reduced until, under the Senate bill, it reaches zero for people earning $80,000 and couples making $160,000.
Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief
Biden and his team have begun discussions on the possible outlines of an infrastructure package with members of Congress, particularly mindful that Texas' recent struggles with power outages and water shortages after a brutal winter storm present an opportunity for agreement on sustained spending on infrastructure. At a conference with state and local highway officials Thursday, he referred to the often-promised, never-achieved mega-initiative on roads, bridges and the like from the Trump administration. Much of America's infrastructure — roads, bridges, public drinking and water systems, dams, airports, mass transit systems and more — is in need of major restoration after years of underfunding, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Democrats passed a $1.5 trillion package in the House last year, but it went nowhere with the Trump administration and the Republican-led Senate. Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told the AP that he foresees a comprehensive House package that will go beyond roads, bridges and public transit.
US needs to brace itself for more deadly storms, experts say
It was also a harbinger of what social service providers and governments say will be a surge of increased needs for society’s most vulnerable as climate and natural disasters worsen. More than 100 million people live in areas under winter weather warnings, watches or advisories, and blackouts are expected to continue in some parts of the country for days. Climate change also is hurting military readiness. “The cost associated with addressing climate change and improving our infrastructure’s resilience is always going to be less than the cost of rebuilding or failing to act,'' Carper said. Modifying the turbines slightly to withstand freezing temperatures is one step needed to confront climate change, said Roy McCann, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas.
US needs to brace itself for more deadly storms, experts say
It was also a harbinger of what social service providers and governments say will be a surge of increased needs for society’s most vulnerable as climate and natural disasters worsen. More than 100 million people live in areas under winter weather warnings, watches or advisories, and blackouts are expected to continue in some parts of the country for days. Climate change also is hurting military readiness. Ad“The cost associated with addressing climate change and improving our infrastructure’s resilience is always going to be less than the cost of rebuilding or failing to act,'' Carper said. Modifying the turbines slightly to withstand freezing temperatures is one step needed to confront climate change, said Roy McCann, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas.
Biden hopes infrastructure can bridge partisan divide
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with lawmakers on investments in infrastructure, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Washington. Carper pledged to work on a transportation bill that will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by cars and trucks and boosting electric cars. AdInhofe later told reporters that the meeting with Biden was "very good, very good. During the presidential campaign, Biden committed to deploying $2 trillion on infrastructure and clean energy investments over four years. Ad“Mayors and other local regional leaders around the country are very much in alignment with what President Biden has talked about, especially with climate change," said Bill Fulton, director of the institute.
Senate panel advances EPA nominee; GOP slams Interior pick
(Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – A Senate committee has endorsed President Joe Biden's nomination of Michael Regan to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a vote in the full Senate. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced Regan's nomination Tuesday on a 14-6 vote. Regan, who has served as North Carolina's top environmental regulator since 2017, would be the first Black man to run the EPA. A third Biden nominee, Deb Haaland, has not yet had a hearing on her selection to lead the Interior Department. AdHe also was concerned by Haaland's responses on issues such as wildlife management and access by hunters and sportsmen to public lands, Daines said.
Biden flexible on who gets aid, tells lawmakers to 'go big'
We need to act fast.”On the direct payments, Biden said he doesn’t want to budge from the $1,400 promised to Americans. But he said he is willing to “target” the aid, which would mean lowering the income threshold to qualify. Biden spoke with House Democrats and followed with a meeting of top Senate Democrats at the White House, deepening his public engagement with lawmakers on his American Rescue Plan. “I think we’ll get some Republicans,” Biden said. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell criticized the Democrats for pressing ahead largely on their own as the GOP senators try to provide bipartisan alternatives.
Biden EPA nominee vows 'sense of urgency' on climate change
(Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden's nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency pledged Wednesday to “move with a sense of urgency on climate change” and other priorities, while working with lawmakers from both parties to protect the environment. AdRegan, who has served as top environmental regulator in North Carolina since 2017, would be the first African American man to run the EPA. Regan told senators he learned the importance of preserving the outdoors while hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather in rural North Carolina. Regan told Capito he anticipates “healthy debates” on a variety of issues, adding that he reports to the president, not White House advisers. In a related development, Jennifer Granholm, Biden's nominee to be energy secretary, won approval from the Senate energy panel Wednesday.
Congress takes aim at climate change in massive relief bill
The energy and climate provisions, supported by lawmakers from both parties, were hailed as the most significant climate change law in at least a decade. “Make no mistake,'' he said, the new legislation "will soon be some of the most significant climate solutions to pass out of Congress to date.'' Marty Durbin, a senior vice president at the Chamber of Commerce, called the package — the first major energy bill in more than a decade — “truly historic” and among the most significant action Congress has ever taken to address climate change. The bill will not only address climate change, but also "promote American technological leadership and foster continued economic growth,'' Durbin said. The dramatic if gradual reduction of HFCs in particular “will bring significant climate relief relatively quickly,'' said Matt Casale, director of environment campaigns for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Biden's Homeland Security pick faces questions on 2015 probe
Now, seven years later, Mayorkas is President-elect Joe Biden’s groundbreaking nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and that since-completed investigation has emerged as a potential stumbling block. “That brand of leadership isn’t good for agency culture or the security of our nation,” the Iowa Republican told The Associated Press on Thursday. It’s an important moment for Homeland Security, the third-largest Cabinet agency. It was also not unusual for members of Congress to contact the agency about the EB-5 program. But Kenneth Palinkas, a senior official with the employee union at CIS, said he was widely liked by workers.
Biden's Homeland Security pick faces questions on old probe
Now, seven years later, Mayorkas is President-elect Joe Biden’s groundbreaking nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and that since-completed investigation has emerged as a potential stumbling block. “That brand of leadership isn’t good for agency culture or the security of our nation,” the Iowa Republican told The Associated Press on Thursday. It’s an important moment for Homeland Security, the third-largest Cabinet agency. It was also not unusual for members of Congress to contact him or the agency about the EB-5 program or other matters. But Kenneth Palinkas, a senior official with the employee union at CIS, said he was widely liked by workers.
US companies seeking tariff relief faced red tape, delays
WASHINGTON – Companies seeking relief from President Donald Trump’s taxes on imported steel and aluminum ran into long delays and cumbersome paperwork, a federal watchdog found. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that the Commerce Department, overwhelmed by companies lobbying to avoid the tariffs, could not meet its own deadline for processing around three-fourths of the requests. The idea was to strengthen U.S. producers of steel and aluminum by shielding them from foreign competition. About two-thirds of the requests for relief were ultimately approved, GAO found. It also said that Commerce made it more difficult for companies to get exemptions after hearing objections from supporters of the tariffs.
From farm to beach, Democrats across America nominate Biden
(Democratic National Convention via AP)SACRAMENTO, Calif. A Montana cattle range, a California beach, a historic bridge in Alabama. These were the sometimes kitschy, sometimes poignant scenes from the first-ever virtual roll call vote at the Democratic National Convention. Fred Guttenberg spoke about Biden's compassion following the murder of his daughter at the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Each state also cast some votes for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the last Democrat in the race to challenge Biden. Following tradition, Delaware, Biden's home state, was the final state to announce its support for Biden, with Gov.
Who's who on the committee vetting Biden's possible VPs
Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., right, as they arrive at the House Democratic Issues Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Who's setting the stage for Biden's decision:THE CO-CHAIRSLISA BLUNT ROCHESTER: The Delaware congresswoman connects the vetting team to Biden's home state. After leaving the Obama White House, Hogan served in executive positions for the National Football League and for Apple. She left the tech giant shortly after being named to Bidens search committee. Remus is married to Brett Holmgren, a special assistant and national security aide in the Obama White House.
Who's who's on the committee vetting Biden's possible VPs
Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., right, as they arrive at the House Democratic Issues Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. After leaving the Obama White House, Hogan served in executive positions for the National Football League and for Apple. She left the tech giant shortly after being named to Bidens search committee. Extending the ties, Bauer is married to Anita Dunn, Bidens senior adviser who was one of Obamas White House communications directors. Remus is married to Brett Holmgren, a special assistant and national security aide in the Obama White House.
Democrats decry pandemic of pollution under Trumps EPA
(Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON Democrats on Wednesday blasted the Trump administration's moves to roll back environmental regulations during the coronavirus crisis, with one senator saying a "pandemic of pollution'' has been released. Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the EPA remains open for business" and "at work meeting our mission of protecting human health and the environment.'' While the rest of the country works around the clock to combat and overcome this deadly respiratory pandemic, the Trump EPA has been spearheading a pandemic of pollution, Carper said. An EPA spokeswoman disputed Democrats claims that the temporary enforcement waiver allows companies to openly exceed pollution limits. He said that Trump's EPA has saved U.S. businesses more than $5 billion in regulatory costs.