Divisions are deepening between Democratic Senators over the $3.5 trillion economic recovery plan proposed by the Biden administration, in which an energy system overhaul features heavily.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, for one, earlier called for "a strategic pause" on discussions of the package after openly expressing skepticism about the price tag of the plan.
"I have always said if I can't explain it, I can't vote for it, and I can't explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion," Manchin wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
Incidentally, as CNN notes, Manchin represents a coal-producing state. And just as openly as he is critical of the price of the Biden plan, Manchin has been against the shift to a 100-percent renewable grid.
But it's not only Manchin, the CNN report notes. The differences within the Democratic Party are running deeper and deeper along pro and anti-fossil fuel lines. Just as Sen. Manchin appears to be adamant that zero fossil fuels make no sense, there are senators at the opposite end of the spectrum who will not vote on the $3.5-trillion bill unless it makes climate change stipulations that satisfy them.
"Everyone gets a chance to kick the tires," Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said, as quoted by CNN, in response to Manchin's comments about a 100-percent renewable grid. "At the end of the day we are going to have a deal, and it is going to be good enough on climate or it won't go."
"The urgency of the crisis was made very clear this summer," Sen. Ed Markey from Massachusetts said. "We have to work hard to find a resolution of this issue. But I don't think we should finish the legislation until there is a clean energy standard."
Such differences appear irreconcilable, and the Democrats need total unity to get the monster recovery bill through budget reconciliation. Both sides would need to make concessions if this is to happen, but based on the above comments and others like them, the extent of these concessions may not be sufficient to ensure the success of the bill.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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