- The Washington Times
Tuesday, October 26, 2021

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday dismissed the idea that President Biden needs to reach a deal on his economic agenda, which includes several key provisions to combat climate change, before he departs for Europe later this week to attend a climate change conference.

“I think what the allies are looking at is the effort President Biden has undertaken to design and now negotiate an ambitious, effective practical set of investments in climate and clean energy infrastructure in the United States,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters. “They’re excited about it. They raise it when we see them.

“I don’t think that world leaders will look at this as a binary issue: Is it done? Is it not done?” Mr. Sullivan continued. “They’ll say, ‘Is President Biden on track to deliver what he said he’s going to deliver?’ We believe one way or another he’s on track to do that.”

Mr. Biden leaves Thursday for a European trip that includes attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, scheduled to begin on Monday.

The upcoming conference, known as COP26, is the latest in a series of self-imposed deadlines to wrap up at least a framework for Mr. Biden’s multitrillion-dollar economic spending plan.

Democrats are aiming to include strong provisions to tackle climate change to meet Mr. Biden’s goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.

The White House has sought to reach an agreement with Democratic lawmakers on at least the climate provisions, giving Mr. Biden leverage to negotiate similar climate commitments from other world leaders.

Still, Democrats have been at a stalemate for months with centrist senators such as Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona saying the proposal’s price tag is too high and progressives saying the provisions don’t go far enough to fight climate change or expand the social safety net.

One key climate change provision, a Clean Electricity Performance Program, is already expected to be booted from the final proposal. However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted Tuesday that nothing has been finalized when it comes to Mr. Biden’s spending proposals.

Mr. Sullivan said the world leaders understand that democracy can be messy, and he doesn’t expect the president to be in a more difficult position with world leaders if he doesn’t have an agreement on his domestic climate change proposals.

“I think you have a sophisticated set of world leaders who understand the politics in their own country and understand American democracy and recognize that working through complex far-reaching negotiations on some of the largest investments in modern memory in the United States takes time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the White House is still scrambling to reach a deal.

Ms. Psaki said the president will host more lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday and possibly more members on Wednesday. She noted that Mr. Biden has built “flexibility” into his schedule to meet with or call members of Congress.

She added that if a deal is not reached by the time Mr. Biden leaves, he will continue to negotiate while overseas.

“There are phones on Air Force One, and he will continue to be engaged throughout the trip,” she said.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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