Hickenlooper: ‘He never told me he was done, and I said as long as Joe Manchin is at the table, I’m at the table’
NYT: ‘Surprise Deal Would Be Most Ambitious Climate Action Undertaken by U.S.’
In case you missed it, Senate Democrats announced an agreement to pass the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a reconciliation bill to fight climate change and lower health care costs. The New York Times heralded the deal as the “most ambitious climate action undertaken by U.S.” The New York Times, Axios, POLITICO, and others reported Democrats and climate advocates credited U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper with helping the deal coalesce by encouraging Senators Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer to keep trying despite many giving up on any prospect of an ambitious climate bill this year.
Last week Hickenlooper urged his Senate colleagues to delay August recess and continue working on a reconciliation bill that includes climate action, tweeting that “we’re much closer to a climate deal than people realize.”
In the past few weeks, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) kept talking and listening to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), even as many senators were privately — and publicly — castigating him, Axios’ Hans Nichols reports.
- At the same time, Hickenlooper convinced Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to stay at the table.
With Hickenlooper keeping talks alive with some shuttle diplomacy, Democrats knew they had to convince Manchin that the package would reduce inflation.
Two weeks ago, when even Mr. Biden seemed to be writing an obituary for climate legislation, a small group of lawmakers continued to work with Mr. Manchin. Several Democrats and climate activists credited Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado with keeping the lines of communication to Mr. Manchin open.
“When a lot of people said ‘That’s the end’ and everyone’s writing it off, I went to everybody I knew and said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t quit,” said Mr. Hickenlooper, a onetime geologist for an oil and gas company. “We don’t have a satisfactory alternative.”
Many were wary about continuing negotiations because “they didn’t want to have their heart broken again,” Mr. Hickenlooper said. But, he said, Mr. Manchin insisted that he was still open to a deal.
Mr. Hickenlooper said the group worked closely with experts at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and that Mr. Manchin put much stock in their data indicating that legislation could be designed that did not worsen inflation.
He called Mr. Manchin “an honest broker” in the talks, one who wanted to find a way to address climate change without creating a burden for the fossil fuel workers in his state.
“He never told me he was done, and I said as long as Joe Manchin is at the table, I’m at the table,” Mr. Hickenlooper said.
Sens. Tina Smith of Minnesota, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, and Chris Coons of Delaware were among a small group of Democrats who, along with their staffs, kept up discussions with Manchin and his aides in recent weeks.
Hickenlooper praised the bill as a major victory after conversations behind the scenes with staff and key senators.
“I don’t think I’ve been happier,” he told POLITICO. “This is like, better than getting elected in terms of happy.”
Many Democrats, put simply, did not believe him and proceeded like the bill was dead. They began calling for a climate emergency and other executive actions. Indeed, progressives yesterday held a press conference to push Biden on the emergency declaration.
But in the Senate, some Democrats, including Wyden and Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), wanted to keep negotiations open and implored Manchin to think of the climate provisions as deflationary.
“I’m proud my colleagues refused to give up the fight, even when the odds were long,” Hickenlooper said in a statement yesterday. “We worked around the clock to prove that clean energy investments will fight inflation.”