“Those two things must go hand in hand for it to have my support,” she said.
Some Democratic strategists are skeptical about the budget reconciliation route. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both Democrats, have balked at voting for a reconciliation bill that has no Republican support. Mr. Manchin, who represents a coal-rich state, is unlikely to support a plan designed to end demand for coal.
“I think it will be as challenging in reconciliation now as increasing the minimum wage was at the beginning of the year,” said Rich Gold, an energy and environment lobbyist and former senior E.P.A. adviser in the Clinton administration, speaking of Democrats’ failed attempt to use the reconciliation process to raise the minimum wage.
“Having been around this joint for a while, I don’t think there’s any way to do this that will be politically viable with the Democratic conference in the Senate, and there do not seem to be any Republican votes for it,” Mr. Gold said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the Republicans who worked on the bipartisan infrastructure deal, said she had considered the president’s request for a requirement that utilities gradually reduce their use of fossil fuels. “But I guess I’ve looked at it and I said ‘All right, is this really the place that you’re going to be focusing?’ I would rather not have it be that mandated standard,” she said.
Should Democrats fail to enact the clean electricity standard using this year’s one-shot chance at the budget reconciliation procedure, it is almost impossible to see how it could pass later. Senate procedures typically require 60 votes to pass legislation. Democrats could lose their thin Senate majority in next year’s midterm elections, effectively ending the road for Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda.
Absent a clean electricity standard, Mr. Biden could still use regulations governing utilities and tailpipe emissions to try to tamp down emissions. In addition, the reconciliation bill could enact billions of dollars in new tax credits over the course of a decade to further bring down the costs of wind, solar and other clean energy technologies as well as rebates to spur the purchase of electric vehicles.
“That package would set the country on the right path,” said Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.
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