The trip to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Denver will close the president’s two-day shift to the West and offer Biden the opportunity to continue to tie the need to spend the massive spending envelope with the urgent threat posed by climate change. . Biden spent Monday in Boise, Idaho, and Sacramento, Calif., Receiving briefings on the devastating wildfire season and observing the damage the Caldor fire caused to communities around Lake Tahoe.
“We cannot ignore the reality that these wildfires are supercharged by climate change,” Biden said, noting that catastrophic weather does not strike on the basis of partisan ideology. “It’s not about red or blue states. It’s about fires. Just fires.”
During his two shutdowns on Monday, Biden presented the wildfires in the region as an argument for his $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and an additional spending package of $ 3.5 trillion. . The president said every dollar spent on “resilience” would save $ 6 in future costs. And he argued that reconstruction must go beyond simply restoring damaged systems and instead ensuring that communities can withstand such crises.
“These fires are flashing ‘code red’ for our nation. They are increasing in frequency and ferocity,” Biden said after concluding his visit from the damage caused by the Caldor fire. “We know what we have to do.”
The climate provisions of Biden’s plans include tax incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles, investments to shift the economy from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as wind and solar power, and the creation of a civilian climatic body.
Biden has set a goal of eliminating fossil fuel pollution in the electricity sector by 2035 and the U.S. economy as a whole by 2050.
In California, Biden also campaigned for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall election on Tuesday. Speaking at a rally in Long Beach, Biden presented the recall as a battle against “Trump’s Republicans trying to stop us from beating this pandemic” and called Newsom’s main Republican opponent “another climate denier. of Trump ”.
The president’s two-day Western swing comes at a critical time for a central part of his legislative agenda. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are scrambling to piece together the details of the more infrastructure plan – and how to pay for it, a concern that isn’t just for Republicans.
Along with the unified Republican opposition in Congress, Biden must overcome the skepticism of two key centrist Democrats in the heavily divided Senate. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have expressed concerns about the size of the $ 3.5 trillion spending envelope.
Manchin said on Sunday: “I cannot support $ 3.5 trillion”, citing his opposition to a proposal to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and to the vast new social spending being considered by the president. . Manchin also complained about a process he said appears rushed.
In California, Biden appeared to respond to people concerned about the size of the plan, saying the cost “could rise” to as high as $ 3.5 trillion and would be spread over 10 years, a period during which the economy should grow. He also insisted that when it comes to tackling climate change “we have to think big”.
“Thinking small is a prescription for disaster,” he said.
The 100-member Senate is split equally between Democrats and Republicans. Given the strong opposition from the GOP, Biden’s plan cannot be passed by the Senate without the support of either Manchin or Sinema.
The White House is trying to turn the corner after a difficult month dominated by a chaotic and violent United States withdrawal from Afghanistan and the burgeoning variant of the COVID-19 delta that upended what the president had hoped to mark a summer in during which the nation was finally liberated. of the coronavirus.
Biden acknowledged that his poll numbers had fallen in recent weeks, but argued his program was “extremely popular” with the public. He said he expects his Republican opponents to attack him instead of debating him on the merits of his spending plan.
Superville reported from Washington.