A Green New Deal co-author panned Speaker Nancy Pelosi for including "tiny" airline emissions standards in the House's coronavirus response package, arguing now is not the time for token environmental provisions when Americans' livelihoods are hanging in the balance.
Saikat Chakrabarti, the former chief of staff to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called Pelosi's idea "ridiculous" to include carbon emission language in legislation designed to keep Americans from losing their incomes, homes and businesses during the pandemic.
"I helped write the #GreenNewDeal and I think this is ridiculous," tweeted Chakrabarti, who helped author the Green New Deal while working with Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey's office. "The tiny little emissions standard increase doesn’t even do anything meaningful to stave off climate change and gives the @GOP leverage to get rid of real help for working people. Solve the problem at hand."
Chakrabarti was reacting to a TV interview where Pelosi defended the airline carbon emission language in the House bill.
"There is a whole concern in our country that if we're giving tens of billions of dollars to the airlines, that we could at least have a shared value about what happens to the environment," Pelosi said.
The House stimulus bill, which hasn't passed, includes aid to the flagging airline industry but requires the airlines to fully offset their carbon emissions starting in 2025. The House Democrats' legislation also calls for airlines to reduce their carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2035 and 50 percent by 2050.
Republicans panned the House bill as being bogged down with unrelated goodies, including climate change provisions. President Trump and Republicans ripped the legislation as an effort to try to pass the "Green New Deal," while Americans are struggling to keep their homes, businesses and health.
However, the Green New Deal isn't in the House legislation. The Green New Deal aims to move away from old environmental regulations, such as airline emission and carbon cap and trade deals. The blueprint of the Green New Deal is a manufacturing initiative to build up a massive new clean energy infrastructure by ramping up production of solar panels, wind farms, batteries, new power grids, electric cars, charging stations and more.
Green New Deal activists took issue with the coronavirus stimulus bill being stymied by minor environmental provisions they deem as laughable. Chakrabarti encouraged lawmakers to pass simple legislation immediately -- without environmental mandates -- that ensures Americans have money coming in.
"Imagine if Pelosi had passed a simple, 5-page bill that just did the obvious stuff everyone knows [could] hold the economy together," the AOC ally tweeted. "Payroll covered, debts pause[d], direct cash to people, 0% interest loans for business. Then dare the Senate to oppose it. We’d have a bill last week."
During a conference call with House Democrats Tuesday afternoon, at least one Blue Dog Democrat said Pelosi's House bill "set people off" and angered struggling constituents in moderate districts who think Democrats were trying to seek partisan wins like the "Green New Deal," according to a person familiar with the call.
Pelosi quashed the claim and said the Green New Deal isn't part of the House bill, just the airline emissions standards. Her message to the Democrats was: I do not support the Green New Deal. There is no Green New Deal in our bill, the source said.
The airline emission hubbub is likely moot at this point. The Senate reached a bipartisan deal for its $2 trillion stimulus bill that is not expected to have airline emission regulations. If the legislation passes the Senate, it will head to the House and to Trump.
It would be the largest stimulus package passed in U.S. history, yet lawmakers already acknowledged at least one other round of aid is likely needed to help American families reeling from the shutdown of the economy because of the coronavirus.