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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It's the end of the beginning for Democrats' bid to steer climate legislation through the Senate with the narrowest possible majority.

Catch up fast: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday will trigger the next "reconciliation" process — that is, crafting spending and revenue measures immune from Senate filibuster.

  • A senior aide said Schumer wants legislation that puts the U.S. "on track to reduce carbon pollution at a scale commensurate with the climate crisis."

Why it matters: Democrats want to go big, but writing measures that likely need buy-in from their entire caucus to survive is a politically narrow path.

What's next: Schumer meets today with Budget Committee members about a fiscal blueprint that would direct other committees to write policy measures consistent with its goals.

  • The New York Times notes that staff-level work has already begun.

The big picture: The aide said Schumer wants funding for...

  • Clean energy incentives that would cut power sector CO2 emissions by 80% by 2030.
  • Consumer rebates for buying electric cars, which is part of the wider electric vehicles plan Schumer first floated in 2019.
  • Funding to help manufacturers and farmers "be part of the solution to reducing emissions."

The big question: Whether there's an intra-Democratic deal possible in both chambers (the Democrats' House majority is small too).

  • Liberal Democrats say strong climate measures are needed to win their votes.
  • But Schumer needs to keep more conservative Democrats in the fold.

Quick take: Schumer's climate goals didn't explicitly mention a "clean energy standard" — a mandate that utilities supply significantly escalating amounts of zero-carbon power.

  • Many environmentalists and climate-focused Democrats want one, but its omission could signal the steep uphill climb toward gaining 51 votes for it.

Go deeper

Biden steps into the breach

Sen. Joe Manchin heads to a meeting with President Biden today. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden ramped up the pressure on his fellow Democrats Wednesday, calling a series of lawmakers to the White House in the hope of ending infighting and getting them in line.

Why it matters: Divisions within the party are threatening to derail Biden's top priorities. After several weeks of letting negotiations play out, the president is finally asserting his power to ensure his own party doesn't block his agenda.

Updated Sep 22, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on bold climate commitments

On Wednesday, September 22nd, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and energy reporter Ben Geman hosted a virtual conversation on the innovative approaches climate leaders are undertaking to reshape standards for sustainability initiatives in 2022 and beyond, featuring White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp.

Gina McCarthy explained the Biden administration’s recent environmental priorities, the importance of mobilizing different communities to fight climate change, and how the White House is incentivizing private industries to reduce their emissions.   

  • On addressing extreme heat problems: "I think everybody’s beginning to understand as the President tours the sites of wildfires and flooding and other really big challenges like drought, there’s this silent killer for climate change that’s called excess heat, that really doesn’t get enough attention."
  • On cross-agency collaboration on climate change at a federal level: “It’s an exciting moment where people across the federal government are working together in ways they have never done before, not just to tackle wildfires and droughts and flooding and heat stress, but also to tackle the challenge of how we motivate our business sector and send them all the signals you would want us to send that shows that President Biden is committed to achieving net zero in 2050, and knows that this decade is a decisive decade.”

Fred Krupp highlighted how companies must be held accountable to pledges to reduce their emissions, how some corporations are breaking with lobby associations to become more vocal about climate change (and others are not), and how he believes debates surrounding the infrastructure bill will play out in the near future. 

  • On how corporate lobbying has fallen short: “Right now, we don’t see enough corporations lobbying on behalf of the climate sections of the reconciliation bill. This bill that’s pending in Congress is our once in a decade opportunity to get something done on climate.” 
  • On public support for the infrastructure bill: “I see an enormous amount of support in the American public for moving ahead with a sort of clean energy economy that are going to create tremendous numbers of jobs, clean the air, make people healthier.” 

Axios VP of Communications Yolanda Brignoni hosted a View from the Top segment with GE’s Chief Sustainability Officer Roger Martella, who discussed how GE is following through on their ESG goals by investing in sustainable energy technologies. 

  • “We create some of the most technically complex and critical technologies the world needs, and we’re focused today on innovating these technologies on a path to decarbonization.” 

Thank you GE for sponsoring this event.

Sep 24, 2021 - Health

Manchin: "We need to stabilize" Medicare before expanding

Sen. Joe Manchin. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that Democrats "need to stabilize" Medicare before expanding the program, The Hill reports.

Why it matters: Progressives are hoping to expand Medicare through a broad social spending bill, which Democratic senators have urged Manchin to support. Manchin's vote is critical in passing any Democratic bill in the 50-50 Senate.