Activists bent on ‘shutting down’ congressional baseball game retool focus after Manchin-Schumer deal

Signs of progress on Capitol Hill may surprise activists but doesn’t derail plans

John Bowden
Washington DC
Thursday 28 July 2022 19:16 BST
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Activists hoping to spur Congress to action on the increasingly urgent climate change crisis are still going forward with plans to demonstrate on Thursday at the congressional baseball game.

Their announcement comes after a surprise development was announced on Wednesday evening in the form of a deal struck by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and centrist holdout Senator Joe Manchin to revive Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda — including, crucially, billions of dollars set aside to address carbon emissions and the US energy sector with a goal of reducing emissions by 40 per cent before 2030. If passed, it would easily be the most significant investment in addressing and fighting US contributions to climate change in history.

In a brief statement to The Independent on Thursday, activists affiliated with Now or Never indicated that they would go forward with plans to protest at tonight’s annual game between Democrats and Republicans, held at Nationals Park for charity.

“We’re in a climate emergency. Democrats need to seal the deal on climate and get this package passed, and the President needs to declare a climate emergency,” said Vincent Vertuccio, a representative for the group. “This news is good news, but it is not a win yet.”

“We intend to keep the pressure up until it becomes one,” he added.

The Manchin-Schumer deal has yet to receive the endorsement of Mr Manchin’s fellow centrist Kyrsten Sinema or the Senate’s parliamentarian, whose ruling on the legislation could convince Democrats to strip out some parts of the bill before passing it through the 51-vote reconciliation process. Still, if its provisions become law it would have great impact on America’s carbon emissions.

The bill would set up rebate programs incentivising Americans to go green in their own lives as well as programs bent on decarbonising the US energy industry; rebate programs would offer Americans thousands of dollars in savings for buying electric vehicles, either new or pre-owned, and other programs would offer similar incentives for installing rooftop solar panels and other home modifications meant to save energy.

News of the deal being struck came after months of inaction on the issue, frustrating activists and the president’s voting base alike ahead of what could be a bruising midterm season for Democrats particularly in the House.

A day earlier in an interview Mr Vertuccio stressed to The Independent that it was the responsibility of Mr Schumer and Mr Biden to “play hardball” with Mr Manchin and other holdouts like Ms Sinema and “do everything they can to get the senators to move”.

“Joe Biden could’ve declared a climate emergency yesterday,” Mr Vertuccio said. “We could’ve gotten a push notification right now that Joe Biden declared a climate emergency. It’s not a very hard thing to do to flick a pen.”

“So yeah, I do think that it’s a core thing, that our leaders need to be leaving it all out on the field and doing whatever it takes to get climate done.”

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