Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House hopes to use the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process to mandate that power companies supply escalating amounts of zero-carbon electricity, according to a memo from two top aides obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The policy, called a "clean energy standard," is a priority for environmentalists, and the memo comes as activists fear infrastructure talks will leave major climate measures on the cutting room floor.

  • President Biden has set a target of achieving 100% carbon-free U.S. power by 2035.
  • A CES would help meet that goal by requiring that growing percentages of power sales over time come from sources like renewables and nuclear power.

Driving the news: The memo promotes environmental pieces already in the bipartisan infrastructure outline, touting climate measures "embedded throughout" the framework.

But it also lists other steps President Biden supports through the budget process.

  • That includes, per the memo from domestic climate chief Gina McCarthy and senior adviser Anita Dunn, "sending a market signal that brings additional private investment off the sidelines and into modernizing our electric grid through an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard."
  • The memo also lists $10 billion for "mobilizing the next generation of conservation and resilience workers" and touts the idea of a "Civilian Climate Corps" to achieve it.
  • Another goal is expanded clean energy tax credits, which Biden has cited repeatedly as a priority for the reconciliation bill Democrats plan to craft.

Our thought bubble: The memo is the latest step in the delicate and uncertain push to build support for the bipartisan plan, while also appealing to climate-focused lawmakers and activists who want much more.

  • The sections touting grid, clean water and transit investments in the bipartisan outline mirror other sales pitches earlier this week.
  • Meanwhile, the pledges around the CES and other provisions could help reassure Biden's left flank.
  • The "Civilian Climate Corps" is a priority for the Sunrise Movement, but they're seeking much more funding than Biden has floated.
  • The memo also argues provisions in the bipartisan outline — like cleaning abandoned mines — and reconciliation ideas will boost union jobs.

Catch up fast: Biden recently abandoned threats to veto the bipartisan plan unless a much larger, Democrats-only reconciliation package moves too.

But both packages — which have yet to even be unveiled in legislative form — face extremely high political hurdles.

What we're watching: How a CES could fit within reconciliation, which is meant for spending- and revenue-related measures but not general policy ideas.

The groups Evergreen Action and Data for Progress released a proposal in February about CES designs consistent with that process.

The intrigue: The memo, while citing Biden's reconciliation goals, leaves wiggle room.

  • It offers a commitment to pushing priorities outside the bipartisan plan "through additional congressional action, including budget reconciliation, to ensure we build back our economy and country better."
  • However McCarthy, when asked by Punchbowl News this morning about non-negotiable items in the reconciliation package, pointed to the CES. “We need that second package. We need tax credits. We need a clean energy standard. [We'd] love to see a Civilian Climate Corps," she said.

This story has been updated with comments McCarthy made at a Punchbowl News event on Wednesday.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 29, 2021 - Energy & Environment

White House sells infrastructure deal amid green angst

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The White House is trying to build support for clean energy and climate pieces of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure outline at a time when activists are calling the plan far too modest.

Why it matters: The White House faces growing urgency to corral progressive lawmakers now that President Biden has abandoned threats to veto the plan unless a much larger, Democrats-only package moves too.

Biden defends infrastructure deal as AOC joins WH climate protest

President Biden meets in the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo: Doug Mills/New York Times/Pool/Getty Images

President Biden in an op-ed published by Yahoo! News Monday pledged to do more to tackle climate change as he touted the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal he reached with a group of bipartisan senators.

Why it matters: Biden has faced criticism from progressives over the agreement for not doing enough to address issues such as climate change. Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined hundreds of protesters outside the White House Monday to demand the president act on the matter.

Jun 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell's process approach to policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is trying to blunt momentum for the bipartisan infrastructure bill by focusing on process before policy.

Why it matters: The author of "The Long Game" is once again trying to dictate the terms of congressional action by demanding Democratic leaders delink President Biden's second infrastructure plan from his first. The strategy lets McConnell gain some control of the debate, even if he ultimately supports the package.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!