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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Democrats' new climate blueprint may be a wish list, but for now it has succeeded in one big respect: Avoiding a major flare-up of intra-left tensions over policy.

Driving the news: A lot of groups cheered the nearly 550-page plan yesterday, while criticisms from the left flank of the green movement were real but rather muted.

  • "The House Democrats' climate plan is more ambitious than what we’ve seen from Democratic leadership to date — and that is in no small part a testament to the ever-expanding climate movement who have demanded a Green New Deal," said 350.org's Natalie Mebane.
  • Still, she urged Democrats to "go even further and put forward a plan at the scale of the climate crisis."

What they're saying: For one look at where the left is, check out this new blog post from Julian Brave NoiseCat of the think tank Data for Progress.

  • He argues the "zeitgeist has changed" in Democratic climate politics, citing a leftward move and also notes the plan's emphasis on environmental justice.
  • "As someone who stumbled into the climate fight before it was cool, I can’t help but read the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis report — even the parts I disagree with — as a sort of small, wonky victory," he writes.

Yes, but: In one sign of how tricky climate politics are, yesterday AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka offered a mix of praise and warning shots.

  • "There are concerns for our unions in these recommendations, including some of the tax provisions and timetables for emissions reductions and technological mandates," he said in a statement.

The big picture: There's nothing remotely resembling a clear path for enacting most of the big proposals, which in sum are vastly more aggressive than any climate policy seriously considered in the United States.

  • The report, at least the big-ticket pieces requiring legislation, is best viewed as a menu of options for Democrats if — if! — they regain control of the White House and the Senate.
  • And even then, it would depend on how much they could cram through the Senate's budget reconciliation process (which offers a rare chance to move bills without a supermajority), and the party's uncertain appetite to scrap filibuster rules.
  • And also keep in mind that creating legislation opens up endless avenues for conflict that a set of policy recommendations — even a super-duper-detailed one — paper over.

What's next: This morning a spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a "serious report on how to tackle the climate crisis."

  • "You will see a similar report from Senate Democrats in July, and if we take the majority, one of the first things we will put on the floor will be a big, bold climate bill," Justin Goodman said.

What we don't know: Readers, please correct me if I'm missing it, but I haven't seen reactions from moderate Senate Democrats, who would have huge sway if the party gains a majority in the chamber.

  • An aide to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the chamber's energy panel, did not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pence looks to fracture Biden's lead via climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photos: Eric Baradat/AFP and Alex Wong

The exchanges on climate and energy in last night's VP debate broke no new policy ground but did offer a window onto the campaigns' political strategies as Joe Biden leads heading into the final weeks.

Why it matters: The topics are getting prime-time love in the debates in sharp contrast to prior cycles, and the chasm between the platforms is immense.

Biden: "You’ll know my position on court packing when the election is over"

Joe Biden again declined to say Thursday whether he would support expanding the Supreme Court if he wins the presidency and Democrats win the Senate, telling reporters that they'll find out when the election is over.

Why it matters: Some congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have suggested expanding the court if Senate Republicans confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during an election year — which they refused to do for former President Obama's nominee in 2016.

NYT debuts new ad program to help brands address sensitive topics

New York Times

The New York Times is launching a new advertising insights program called "Pivotal" which will provide marketing partners with research and guidance on the best ways to address controversial issues like race, climate, sex, gender, tech and money.

Why it matters: "This is one of the most ambitious things we've done in advertising to-date," says Allison Murphy, The Times' senior vice president of ad innovation.