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A Democratic Senate duo is introducing legislation today taxing carbon emissions, in the shadow of the largely symbolic but far higher profile debate about the Green New Deal.

The big picture: The bill, sponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, is the latest in a series of broad bills springing up in Congress after a near decade of mostly inaction on comprehensive climate policy.

Driving the news: At least three bills are forthcoming, with one already floated. Some of these were introduced for the first time last Congress.

  1. The Whitehouse and Schatz bill is similar to the one they introduced last Congress, which divided the money raised to the public and to other purposes. This bill would achieve more reductions in carbon emissions than the last version.
  2. Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania is going to re-introduce his own version of a carbon tax bill that he proposed last Congress alongside then-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who lost his reelection bid. This bill eliminates the federal gasoline tax and uses the money raised for various purposes.
  3. Democrat Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota is crafting a clean energy standard bill, per her office.
  4. A bipartisan group of House members re-introduced another version of a carbon tax bill in January. This bill returns the money raised from the tax to the public.

But, but, but: None of these bills are likely to become law anytime soon given Republican political leaders, including President Trump, dismiss the issue, and they’re controlling much of Washington right now. Instead, these bills are a sign of a debate, long relegated to Washington’s back burner, re-emerging. Whether that translates into actual policy passing is a big open question.

What’s next: Expect more focus on the Green New Deal, which, despite its lack of detail compared to the aforementioned bills, is grabbing all the attention.

Go deeper: Democrats left turn on climate change

Go deeper

53 mins ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia structures in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.