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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rep. Sean Casten is a backbencher. But the former clean energy exec's combo of wonkery and no-holds-barred commentary has made him a prominent — and, lately, despairing — voice for Democrats on climate.

Driving the news: Casten spoke with Axios about Democrats' seemingly shrinking climate legislation, what it means for the UN climate summit, and his take on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who's at the center of it all.

Why it matters: Casten sees passing a strong climate bill as mandatory for America to regain the world's trust on climate. He's looking to attend COP26 in Glasgow and said a failure to pass anything meaningful by then could have major repercussions.

Details: "The thing that's scares Manchin," Casten said, "Is that if we accelerate the deployment of clean energy, as soon as it's built, fossil energy's dead. Everybody knows it right? Because it is so much cheaper."

  • Regarding the provision in the reconciliation bill known as the Clean Electricity Performance Program, or CEPP, that Manchin is seeking to eliminate, Casten said: "The idea that we would maybe do something as impactful as the CEPP, and we'd get it through people who think their primary goal is to protect energy producers, is predicated on the assumption that those folks are stupid."
  • "I don't believe Mr. Manchin is stupid," he added.

Between the lines: Casten attended COP25 in Madrid in 2019, where he saw the prime minister of the Marshall Islands reminding delegates that her country was a foot away from disappearing.

  • What are we going to say to the Marshall Islands' at COP26, Casten asked?
  • "The U.S. is saying: 'Oh I'm so sorry about that. Have I told you about the needs of West Virginia?'"

Go deeper: Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

Go deeper

Rashida Tlaib warns of “corporate Dems” killing Biden bill

Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks with Axios' Jonathan Swan. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told "Axios on HBO" she's "fearful" of what will happen to President Biden's big social spending bill in the Senate because "corporate Democrats" — including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are serving special interests.

Driving the news: "I know that they've been influenced and guided by folks that don't have the best interests of the American people in mind," the Squad member said.

Updated 42 mins ago - Health

Massage, facial, pedicure... intravenous drip?

A salon on the Upper East Side of New York that offers IV drip therapies. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

IV drips — the kind you might get if you're rushed to the hospital — are trending as a spa treatment, thanks in part to endorsements by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Madonna.

Why it matters: Like other "wellness" trends with a whiff of medical imprimatur, IV nutrient drips can be harmless or mildly restorative — or go awry, particularly in the wrong hands.

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

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