July 20, 2021

80+ House and Senate Democrats Urge Inclusion of Civilian Climate Corps in Final Reconciliation Deal

Bicameral leaders outline agreement on goals, standards and structure of the program

Washington D.C.— Today, Representatives Joe Neguse, Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, Judy Chu, Marcy Kaptur, Bobby Rush and Senators Ron Wyden, Chris Coons, and Ed Markey led a letter signed by over 80 lawmakers urging inclusion of the Civilian Climate Corps in the final budget reconciliation deal. Initial reporting of the Senate’s framework for a deal notes general support for the concept, but the final funding and details will be agreed upon in the coming weeks.

The group of bicameral leaders, who have been advocating for creation of a Civilian Climate Corps for several months and years, laid out their joint vision on goals, labor standards and structure of the program in a letter to House and Senate leadership today. While each of the legislators have previously introduced their own bills outlining a vision for the Civilian Climate Corps, this is the first time the coalition is coming together to agree upon their priorities.

Neguse and the bicameral group will hold a press conference at 9:00am ET today at the Senate Swamp. Live stream here. 

The letter asks that the Civilian Climate Corps: 

  • Prioritize projects that invest in natural climate solutions, clean energy, and climate resilience, and which address environmental justice; 
  • Sets ambitious labor standards, including by providing a living wage, robust education awards, full healthcare coverage and support for childcare, housing, transportation and education; 
  • Invests in equitable and diverse Corps membership by recruiting from frontline environmental justice communities and offering opportunities for DACA recipients, DED and TPS holders, refugees and asylees and veterans; 
  • Is implemented through AmeriCorps and other national, state and local service organizations to build on and scale up existing infrastructure;
  • Includes robust funding for the many programs and activities in which Corps members will engage including at the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and others, to provide the needed workforce for federal programs to fulfill their full potential to mitigate climate impacts; and
  • Follows the lead of local communities. 

“In the face of multiple challenges that our communities in Colorado are facing: unemployment, catastrophic wildfires and climate change, creation of a Civilian Climate Corps will bring in essential resources to put Coloradans back to work, restore our lands and our communities,” said Neguse. “As Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, I’m excited to bring this innovative proposal before my Subcommittee today. We have a historic opportunity to make bold investments in our public lands, clean energy and climate resiliency, all while creating good-paying jobs, building a diverse workforce and strengthening career pathways. The urgency of this moment recalls past chapters of national mobilization, and in standing up the Civilian Climate Corps, we will build on that legacy and existing infrastructure to meet the challenges of today.”

Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, Chaired by Congressman Neguse, will hold a hearing to discuss the Civilian Climate Corps. View the live stream here.

“Right now, my state has the sad honor of having the largest wildfire currently burning nationwide. I'm tired of watching my state burn. I'm tired of Oregonians losing everything in one devastating wildfire season after another,” said Wyden. “A Civilian Climate Corps is urgently needed to get ahead of the very real and immediate impacts of the climate crisis hitting communities in Oregon and across the country. We all agree: let's create good-paying jobs with good benefits and put people to work to make our communities safer and more climate resilient.”

“Establishing a Civilian Climate Corps will advance equity and environmental justice while putting people to work on the most important issues facing our nation today,” said Coons. “I’m glad my colleagues in this bicameral group have worked with me to prioritize the inclusion of a Civilian Climate Corps in the final reconciliation bill. The unified vision we have laid out here will pave the way for making national service, job creation, and climate resilience key components of the jobs package moving forward.”

“It’s time for us to pass a bold and equitable Civilian Climate Corps to reinvent, reimagine, and rebuild America. With a robust investment in wages, worker benefits, and climate-smart projects, we can center jobs and justice within the vision of a safer, healthier future and put a diverse group of well-paid workers on the pathway to life-long careers in the clean energy economy,” said Markey.

Read the letter HERE.

The letter is signed by Representatives Joe Neguse, Judy Chu, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Marcy Kaptur, Bobby Rush, Nanette Barragán, Earl Blumenauer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Jamaal Bowman, Brendan Boyle, Julia Brownley, André Carson, Troy Carter, Kathy Castor, Yvette Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, Steve Cohen, Gerald Connolly, Madeleine Dean, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Mark DeSaulnier, Lloyd Doggett, Michael Doyle, Veronica Escobar, Ruben Gallego, Jesús García, Raúl Grijalva, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Mondaire Jones, Kaiali'i Kahele, Ro Khanna, John Larson, Barbara Lee, Teresa Leger Fernandez, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Tom Malinowski, Carolyn Maloney, Betty McCollum, Grace Meng, Marie Newman, Eleanor Norton, Jimmy Panetta, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, John Sarbanes, Janice Schakowsky, Darren Soto, Melanie Stansbury, Thomas Suozzi, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul Tonko, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Peter Welch, Nikema Williams, Danny Davis, Frederica Wilson, and Senators Ron Wyden, Chris Coons, Ed Markey, Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Ben Cardin, Bob Casey, Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Martin Heinrich, Mazie Hirono, Patrick Leahy, Ben Ray Luján, Jeff Merkley, Alex Padilla, Chris Van Hollen, and Elizabeth Warren.  

The letter is endorsed by over 45 local, state and national organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund, Rocky Mountain Conservancy, Defend Our Future, League of Conservation Voters, The Wilderness Society, Sunrise Movement, Earthjustice, The Corps Network, Service Year Alliance, America's Service Commissions, States for Service Coalition, Outdoor Afro, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Lands Foundation, Continental Divide Trail Coalition , Conservation Colorado, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, National Recreation and Park Association, American Forests, SkyDay, Choose Outdoors, SOS Outreach, National League of Cities, Courage California, Student Conservation Association, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Protect Our Winters, Inclusion Outdoors, Better Wyoming, The Educator, Collective for Environmental Justice, Defiende Nuestra Tierra, 10 Billion Strong, Natural Resources Defense Council, Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education, Friends of, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Rising Routes, Children & Nature Network, Sierra Club, Outdoors Alliance for Kids, Outdoor Afro, Connecticut Forest & Park Association, REI Co-op, The Trust for Public Land, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Washington Trails Association, North American Association for Environmental Education.

View quotes of support HERE.