US Climate Program Funding in Doubt as Manchin Refuses to Offer Support

A single Democratic senator and 50 Republicans are standing between President Biden and his climate ambitions.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
3 min read

Joe Manchin has resisted Biden's climate agenda.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin struck a fresh blow to President Joe Biden's climate agenda on Thursday when he refused to support funding for climate programs or energy projects. 

The Washington Post reported that the Democrat from West Virginia told party leaders that due to the latest surge in inflation and cost of living, he was reluctant to back proposals for climate spending, even after Democrats had slashed their original ambitions in a bid to win him over.

With a 50-50 split in the Senate and no Republicans senators in favor of tackling climate change, securing the support of every last Democrat is necessary if Biden wants to pass climate-friendly policies. Manchin is the only Democratic senator to resist Biden's climate ambitions, last year stripping the president's Build Back Better bill of the climate policies on which it was centered. Critics have pointed out that he received more money from fossil fuel companies than anyone else in the Senate throughout the last election cycle and also owns a coal business.    

Speaking on MetroNews Talkline on Friday, Manchin confirmed that he'd discussed the funding for climate and energy with the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, but said that he wanted to wait to see the July interest rates and inflation figures before making a final call. "I can't make that decision basically on taxes of any type and also on the energy and climate, because it takes the taxes to pay for the investment in the green technology that I'm in favor of," he said. "But I'm not going to do something and overreach that causes more problems."

Manchin's reluctance to take immediate action on climate this week coincides with record-breaking heatwaves spanning three continents, which scientists agree have been made more extreme by human-induced climate change. As health warnings are issued to alert people to the threat of falling ill, dying and being displaced -- as has already happened across parts of Asia and Africa -- the Biden administration is struggling to make headway on convincing members of the Senate that urgent action needs to be taken to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

Attempts by the US, the biggest carbon emitter in history, to tackle the climate crisis are under scrutiny from the global community. On the world stage at events such as the UN climate summit COP26, Biden and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry have been promising that the US will meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement -- a global effort to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius. But at home, they have been fighting a battle against one of their own, as they try to pass legislation designed to bolster the US through the establishment of a green energy economy.

Democrats are keen to try to pass the package, including the climate spending provisions, ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. With losses expected, the party knows this could be the last chance to secure the funding that would help the US meet Biden's stated goal of halving US emissions by the end of this decade.