Sep 4, 2019

2020 Dems' new climate plans need the Senate to succeed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The last 24 hours brought a burst of climate plans from 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls — along with reminders of why some of the most ambitious proposals won’t happen unless the Senate flips too.

Why it matters: They signal how the field would go far beyond the Obama era in seeking to sharply drive down U.S. emissions, restricting fossil fuels and spurring a sweeping transition to zero-carbon fuels.

  • The plans would flex plenty of executive muscle on topics like toughening auto emissions rules and restricting fossil fuel projects that need federal approval.
  • But there's no getting around the fact that huge portions need buy-in from Congress., including huge increases in climate-focused federal spending and changes to the tax code, such as cutting oil industry incentives.

Driving the news: This morning, Kamala Harris unveiled her long-awaited climate plan ahead of tonight's 7-hour (!) CNN candidates forum on the topic.

The state of play: Absent a sea-change in the GOP's posture, this means that Democrats would need to take control of the Senate to breathe life into them — yet, at most, they'll end up with a narrow majority. That might entice a Democratic Senate to consider scrapping the filibuster, as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested last month.

  • Axios checked in with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office about the filibuster and they pointed to what he told Vox in May: "Get the majority. Beat Trump. We’ll leave discussion of rules to next year."
  • As for the White House hopefuls, some (including Warren and Castro) want to kill the filibuster while others, like Harris, have been equivocal. Joe Biden recently said it would be "dangerous."
  • Still, some things — notably tax measures — can be finessed with a simple majority using the complex budget reconciliation process.

Here's just a sampling of items in the flood of new plans that would require Capitol Hill action:

  • Harris' plan creates a new "climate pollution fee" on the industry, and also incorporates her "climate equity act."
  • Booker's new plan calls for $3 trillion in direct federal investments over 10 years and also includes a carbon "fee and dividend" plank.
  • Warren yesterday tacked another $1 trillion onto her existing plan in order to fold in former candidate Jay Inslee's energy decarbonization plan. She'd find the money by "reversing Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and giant corporations."

Go deeper ... Why climate change is so hard to tackle: The global problem

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.

Trumpworld's plan to brand Biden

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mandel Ngan/AFP

Trump's advisers relish the contrast between his public appearances and Joe Biden's lack thereof. The former vice president, following the guidance of public experts, has eschewed public events and stayed home for months now. Trump, meanwhile, is out and about — masks be damned.

What we're hearing: Watch for plenty more mask-free outings from Trump, hyping the reopening of the economy and avoiding discussions of social distancing and death counts.