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Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's just over two months until a pivotal United Nations climate summit, and if Capitol Hill's importance to the equation wasn't already clear, it sure is now.

Catch up fast: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released an analysis showing the Democrats-only reconciliation plan — and to a much lesser degree the bipartisan infrastructure deal — would essentially put the U.S. on track to meet President Biden's pledge under the Paris Agreement.

  • The April pledge, called a "nationally determined contribution (NDC)," vows a 50%-52% cut in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Why it matters: Schumer's analysis Wednesday of the energy and climate parts of the wider $3.5 trillion plan — which his office says is based on expert input — could help the U.S. show the pledge has teeth.

  • But that's only true if the bill avoids lots of political landmines and passes. If it fails or gets gutted, that would raise doubts about the U.S. ability to make good on the NDC.
  • If other big polluters think the U.S. is serious about slashing planet-warming emissions, it may help spur more tangible action.

Between the lines: White House officials say there are multiple ways to achieve the NDC, and the administration has an expansive executive agenda.

  • But Schumer's analysis says the quiet part out loud: The tough path runs straight through Capitol Hill.

The big picture: The Beltway debate comes as scientists are issuing dire findings about effects of climate change already arriving and danger in store absent immediate, deep and sustained global emissions cuts.

  • The outcome of the reconciliation plan is uncertain on both sides of Capitol Hill.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to corral restive moderates while keeping support from progressives, while Schumer can't lose a single Democrat.

What we're watching: Whether Schumer's move helps convince moderates wary of the bill's size that it's worthwhile spending and progressives — who have angled for more aggressive measures — that it achieves plenty.

How it works: Two key parts of the Senate reconciliation plan are focused on electricity: payments and penalties that push utilities to speed up zero-carbon power deployment, and new and expanded clean energy tax credits.

  • "It will be much harder to claim we are on track for our own NDC commitment without the program to achieve 80% clean electricity by 2030 and the very significant clean energy incentives that are part of the reconciliation package," Jason Bordoff, head of a Columbia University energy think tank, tells Axios.

What they're saying: A White House spokesperson said the reconciliation bill and the bipartisan plan are "critical to unlocking the full economic opportunities that come with taking on the climate crisis."

"Congress can and must position our communities and workers to seize these opportunities and meet the moment.”

Go deeper

Sep 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop - Manchin: Delay Biden plan to '22

Sen. Joe Manchin walks through the Capitol Visitor Center last week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is privately saying he thinks Congress should take a “strategic pause” until 2022 before voting on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social-spending package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s new timeline — if he insists on it — would disrupt the plans by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to vote on the budget reconciliation package this month.

Dems' immigration plan hits major roadblock

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Sunday that Democrats cannot include pathways to citizenship in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, per a copy of the ruling obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: It's a blow to Democrats who hoped to provide pathways for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Using reconciliations would have allowed them to pass politically contentious immigration changes with only 50 votes, as opposed to the usual 60 required.

Pelosi's back-to-school math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may need votes from an unlikely source — the Republican Party — if she hopes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by next Monday, as she's promised Democratic centrists.

Why it matters: With at least 20 progressives threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, centrist members are banking on more than 10 Republicans to approve the bill.