Energy & Environment

Biden says no world leaders asked him if his spending bill will pass

President Biden said Tuesday that no world leaders at the United Nations climate summit asked him if his Build Back Better agenda will pass Congress, and stressed instead the work his administration has made so fair on climate. 

Speaking during a press conference before leaving Glasgow, Scotland, the president said other members of the United Nations COP26 summit, the 26th annual conference held for global leaders to discuss approaches to climate change, didn’t bring up the prospects of his economic and social spending agenda passing.

“I didn’t have a single member of this conference come up to me and say, ‘are you going to pass what you have, what do you think?’ ‘How is that going to affect it?’ ‘What are you going to do?’” Biden said.

“What they’re looking at is what in fact has happened with everything dealing with deforestation to what we’re going to do on Build Back Better and how we’ve been able to focus now,” he added.

He vowed that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would back the final version of the bill as its fate in the legislature loomed over his time at the summit. Passage of the bill will be critical to the U.S. meeting many of the goals Biden has laid out to cut emissions and halt the effects of climate change as he has positioned the U.S. as a world leader on the issue during meetings with other world leaders.

Manchin expressed reservations about voting for the package, citing concerns about inflation and adding to the national debt.

The president’s framework includes many environmental policy provisions, including clean energy tax credits, an electric vehicle tax credit, a conservation jobs program called a Civilian Climate Corps, tax credits and rebates to help people electrify their homes. 

In Glasglow, Biden announced goals for reducing methane emissions and joined others in touting efforts to stop and reverse deforestation by the year 2030. 

He called the deforestation agreement “a great example of the kind of ambition we need and the United States is proud, proud to have initiated in supporting it.”

“I can’t think of any two days where more has been accomplished dealing with climate,” Biden said. 

Activists, including Greta Thunberg, have held protests outside COP26 about the pace of action on climate change. When asked about the atmosphere around the conference, the president said he agreed with protesters who are skeptical about the ultimate impact of the event.

“I think anyone who is focused on the environment should be worried. We’ve got a lot more to do beyond what we’ve done. We’ve done more than we’ve ever done though, that’s the point, and more has to be done,” Biden said. 

But, the president added that he is optimistic because people are seeing the catastrophic impacts of climate change for themselves. He cited the deadly flooding that resulted from Hurricane Ida in Queens, N.Y., in September.

“Things are changing. We just have to have the right stewardship and the right sense as world leaders to get it right,” he said.

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.

Tags COP26 Environment Greta Thunberg infrastructure bill Joe Biden Joe Manchin social spending bill United Nations

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
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