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Sen. Joe Manchin opposes key part of Biden's climate agenda: report

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Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith discusses the implications of Sen. Manchin's opposition to Biden's clean electricity program.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, a key part of President Biden's plan to fight climate change is now in jeopardy, thanks to opposition from Senator Joe Manchin. Let's bring in Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith, who is tracking the very latest on the negotiations around this bill. And Jess, what's the next step for the White House if, in fact, this key framework is now in jeopardy?

JESSICA SMITH: Yeah, Senator Manchin has reportedly made clear that he would not support the clean energy program that the Biden administration is pushing to achieve its climate goals. They had wanted to have the clean electricity performance program included in that reconciliation package. But if Senator Manchin does hold firm, it looks like the program will not end up in the bill, at least as originally intended. The program would reward utilities that transition to renewable energy and penalize those that do not.

Manchin has been openly critical about some of the climate provisions in the reconciliation bill. Coal, obviously, important to his state of West Virginia. He said before that companies are already starting to transition to clean energy, so the government should not be paying them to do that. But advocates for the program say it would support utilities so they can make the transition without raising rates on consumers.

So now, Democrats in the White House are trying to figure out their next move, trying to figure out what measures they can actually include in the bill. They've already been trying to decide where to cut because moderates like Manchin and Senator Sinema have said that they would not support that $3.5 trillion price tag. So Democrats and the White House are trying to figure out where they can cut. They can cut enough to get that moderate support, but not cut too much to where it puts progressive support at risk.

Senator Wyden, the chair of the Finance Committee, also put out a statement over the weekend, almost downplaying this hurdle here, saying that the linchpin of the package is actually his program for tax incentives. He said that that is going to be something that he continues to work on his program there, that the Finance Committee has designed, would end benefits for fossil fuel while putting long-term tax incentives in place for clean energy producers and clean electricity and whatnot.

So we'll see how these negotiations play out in Washington in the coming weeks, in the next few days, really, as lawmakers come back to Washington this week and try and get this done. But if this is not doable, if this package does not make it in the final package, that's going to be a big blow for President Biden, just a couple of weeks before he goes to Glasgow for the climate summit, Akiko.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, I was going to mention that, Jess. No question the White House is watching the calendar really closely. As it stands, there are no-- none of those climate initiatives have actually become law. How much urgency do you think there is from the White House to get something, some kind of agreement in place so at least President Biden could go to COP26 when he's trying to convince other leaders to be more aggressive on climate action?

JESSICA SMITH: We know that that is a key date that the White House is eyeing, that Democratic leadership has been eyeing, wanting to be able to go abroad and show that the United States is serious about climate. There has been, obviously, some skepticism about the United States' role in fighting climate change over the past few years. So the Biden administration has wanted to make it a point to show how serious the United States is. And if President Biden cannot get his key program over the finish line, that's going to be a big disappointment for the White House and for the administration.

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