October 28, 2021

Neguse wins Climate Conservation Corps funding as Democrats trim reconciliation bill

As congressional Democrats negotiate cuts from President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better package, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse announced his 21st Century Climate Conservation Corps is not on the chopping block.

Biden on Thursday made the trip up Capitol Hill to urge House Democrats to embrace a framework on a $1.75 trillion bill packed with many of the components of his first-term domestic agenda. The budget reconciliation bill at one point carried a $3.5 billion price tag, though that figure appeared to be a nonstarter for two Senate Democrats: Joe Machin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

“We have a framework that will get 50 votes in the United States Senate,” Biden told House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week.”

Though several elements of the bill have not been finalized, Neguse after the Thursday meeting pointed to one that had: his 21st Century Climate Conservation Corps.

The corps would put young people to work restoring habitats wrecked by wildfires and floods, thinning forests, improving neighborhood parks or winterizing the homes of the elderly and poor. It got a boost a week into Biden’s administration when the president on Jan. 27, Biden signed an executive order instructing the Department of Interior and the secretary of agriculture to develop a strategy to create the Climate Conservation Corps.

What it lacks at this point is funding, which could be on the way if Democrats can get the reconciliation bill to Biden’s desk.

“I’m pleased to announce that the Build Back Better Plan will deliver on our vision to make historic investments in our forests and watersheds and launch a reimagined 21st Century Conservation Corps,” said Neguse, D-Lafayette, in a statement. “In Colorado, the health of our public lands and our forests are inextricably linked to the health of our communities and the health of our economy. For more than a year, as our communities have experienced record-setting wildfires and devastating flash flooding, we have been advocating for historic investments in wildfire prevention, forest restoration and watershed mitigation. We’re thrilled to say that today we are delivering on this vision. The updated text for the Build Back Better Plan released today includes robust funding for wildfire prevention and support for wildland firefighters who are putting their lives on the line every day; includes funding for watershed protection and mitigation to protect local water supplies; and funding to launch a new Climate Conservation Corps to put a diverse, new generation to work in our public lands.”

Elements from Neguse’s plan include $12 billion to launch the Climate Conservation Corps and an additional $30 billion for forests, including funding for wildfire resiliency and and efforts to protect watersheds from fires.

By:  Pat Poblete
Source: Colorado Politics