Gina McCarthy softens ground on climate as reconciliation bill teeters

“It doesn’t mean I don’t want the Clean Energy Payment [Program] and it doesn’t mean we’re going to give it up without lots of kicking and screaming, but it does mean that I don’t think we need to have every penny in here to make tremendous progress,” she continued.

Significant federal investments send a “gigantic signal” to the private sector to pick up speed on decarbonization, McCarthy added. “I’m really excited about this opportunity, and I don’t want anyone to think that just because we didn’t get it all, that we’re not going to get where we need to go, because we will.”

Context: The House is scheduled to hold a key vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday, bringing to a head months of tug-of-war between moderate Democrats who want to pass the bipartisan bill first and progressives aiming to use the bipartisan bill to leverage a bigger reconciliation bill with Senate moderates.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesday reiterated his long-standing concern that the CEPP would just pay utilities to keep doing what they already are by shifting toward cleaner sources.

Separately on Tuesday, a wide array of electric power experts, including the former CEO of the largest organized U.S. market, sent a letter to Manchin and other key leaders in Congress arguing the CEPP would protect grid reliability while accelerating necessary decarbonization efforts.

Catherine Morehouse contributed to this report.