The bipartisan deal reached on the next coronavirus stimulus bill abandoned a last-ditch effort by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to force U.S. airlines getting a bailout to cut their carbon footprint.
The House language stripped from the deal would have linked aid to airlines to a requirement that they halve their carbon emissions over the next 30 years and start offsetting those emissions in 2025.
Also struck: a House provision that would have provided $100 million over five years for research and development of more sustainable aviation fuels.
The massive stimulus package, which would provide trillions of dollars for workers, the health care sector, and employers, now requires passage in the Senate and House. But reaching the Senate deal paves the way for expected approval by both chambers by week’s end.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), in conference call with reporters Wednesady, confirmed the airline climate provisions were stripped in final talks toward the deal.
The nixed climate language also would have directed the airline industry to put in place a continuous audit process to ensure carriers met the 2050 targets. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) on Tuesday accused Democrats of using the negotiations to put “the Green New Deal in effect.”
Congressional Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), accused Democrats of trying to leverage clean energy and climate change deals in an economic stimulus package that should focus on health care and other direct impacts from the coronavirus.
Democrats were “bargaining as business as usual,” McConnell said Tuesday, with “counter-offers that demanded things like new emission standards or tax credits for solar panels.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday that Democrats won other key concessions, such as more money for hospitals than originally proposed by Republicans as well much stronger “transparency and accountability” for companies that receive economic aid under the package.
—With assistance from Michaela Ross.