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Bipartisan Gestures on Infrastructure Won’t Save Us from a Climate Apocalypse

Bipartisan Gestures on Infrastructure Won’t Save Us from a Climate Apocalypse

Democrats like Manchin should forget about negotiating a weak infrastructure bill with Republicans and focus on something that can save America.

It seems darkly fitting that an unprecedented deadly heatwave is descending on America as Congress dithers over meaningless gestures at “bipartisanship” on infrastructure. Nature doesn’t care about Senate comity. The power lines will melt, and the streets will buckle regardless. People will die as power grids fail and buildings collapse. A religious person making an honest attempt to read the portents might even call it a sign from God. The message could not be more clear: An infrastructure deal that does not address climate change in a transformative way is no deal at all.

Unfortunately, the Senate is in danger of acquiescing to Republican hostage-taking and gamesmanship. The result could doom the country to trillions of dollars and untold lives lost as a result of climate-change-induced disasters. Against this backdrop, the current negotiations in the Senate are taking on an almost farcical character, somewhat akin to arguing over floral decorations on the banquet deck of a sinking ship.

The current state of negotiations over the infrastructure bill goes something like this: Centrist Democratic senators like Joe Manchin don’t want to pass President Biden’s original ambitious infrastructure plan with only Democratic votes via reconciliation because they want the “bipartisan” imprimatur on whatever they pass. But Republicans want to run out the legislative clock, don’t want to give Biden a victory, and won’t support anything close to what the moment demands. They have therefore been stalling and whittling the “bipartisan” bill down to a mere fraction of its former self while ensuring that almost all it is dedicated to preserving and expanding car-and-fossil-fuel-based infrastructure and giving away public goods to private equity.
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