Schumer suggests Biden declare 'climate emergency'

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Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer suggested Monday that President Biden consider declaring an emergency on climate change.

“It might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency,” the New York Democrat told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Schumer seemingly suggested Biden do for the climate what President Trump did for the border– declare a national emergency to bypass legislative debate and use executive authority. 

“He can do many, many things under the emergency powers … that he could do without legislation,” the Senate leader said.

“Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which wasn’t an emergency. But if there ever was an emergency, climate is one,” Schumer added. 

Republicans have warned that Trump using a national emergency to handle immigration and fund the border wall might set a troubling precedent. 

“If today, the national emergency is border security … tomorrow the national emergency might be climate change,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on CNBC in 2019. 

Biden has already used the powers of his new office to push forth a number of environmental measures. In some of his first executive orders the U.S. rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and rescind the Keystone XL pipeline permit.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Democrats control the Senate, House and White House. But most legislation still has to pass the 60-vote hurdle. Schumer — who hasn’t committed to leaving the filibuster in place permanently — told MSNBC that his party was looking into ways to include climate change legislation and other parts of Biden’s Build Back Better plan in budget reconciliation. Reconciliation eliminates the filibuster on certain budgetary legislation.

“There may be things that are reconcilable,” Schumer said about the ability to include climate rules in budget legislation. 

Reports this week predict the Biden administration will take further executive action on the matter Wednesday. A memo obtained by Reuters revealed a new round of forthcoming executive orders to combat climate change domestically and elevate it to a national security threat. Biden will impose a moratorium on federal oil and gas leases, The Washington Post reported Monday. 

Top climate advisers also said that the Biden administration is turning up the heat on China to toughen its targets for greenhouse gas emissions. 

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John Kerry, Biden’s special climate envoy, said a recent pledge by China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, was “not good enough.” In September, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that China would be carbon neutral by 2060, 10 years after other nations in the Paris Climate Agreement had agreed to do so. 

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