Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) are attempting to push their $70 billion “Civilian Climate Corps” bill through Congress’ budget reconciliation process.
“We’re working to win a Civilian Climate Corps in the reconciliation package,” announced Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter. “The last time the US did this, we employed 2M people and had record success in wildfire suppression — one the most rapid peacetime mobilizations in US history. We can revive it to fight climate change.”
Reconciliation is a method by which Congress can pass budget bills with a simple majority in the Senate instead of a sixty-vote, filibuster-proof coalition. Democratic leaders in Congress are seeking to pass much of President Biden’s agenda through the reconciliation process due to the divided nature of the Senate.
According to a joint press release, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s “Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act” would hire a “diverse and equitable” group of 1.5 million young Americans to “complete federally-funded projects that help communities respond to climate change and transition to a clean economy.”
“The CCC would put 1.5 million young people to work strengthening our communities and preserving our lands — doing everything from remediating blight and maintaining trails to creating entirely new green spaces,” remarked Ocasio-Cortez. “The program also provides the support needed to turn this work into a career path — including childcare, eldercare and tax-free educational grants to be used for student loan debt payments or higher education.”
“To combat the interlocking crises of the moment — climate change, racial injustice, a global pandemic, and income inequality — our government has an opportunity to equitably reimagine an idea from the past and tailor it to meet the present and the future,” Markey said. “The Civilian Climate Corps will provide an opportunity for millions of Americans from every walk of life to earn a good wage while serving their communities and training to transform our economy.”
The bill would guarantee salaries between $25,000 and $50,000 for “corpsmembers.” The lawmakers request a total of $70 billion from 2021 through 2025.
To ensure that the Civilian Climate Corps is “just and equitable,” the program would also employ “explicit antiracist language,” prioritize “labor groups,” and enact “tribal sovereignty protections.”
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