“It’s outrageous that our youth need to go to such extremes to have their voices heard,” said Rep. Chuy García, a Illinois Democrat who is not one of the 20-something activists.
The activists are pledging not to eat until Mr. Biden fulfills his promises on climate change. They say the president is granting too many concessions to Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, in exchange to secure passage of his multitrillion-dollar partisan spending bill.
“Biden‘s full agenda was already a bare minimum effort to avert total climate meltdown,” they tweeted. “A ‘shrinking agenda’ is a compromise on our lives. It’s an agenda that DOES NOTHING for working people with a stake in a liveable planet.”
The protest comes days after Mr. Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee and a key swing vote for the White House‘s agenda, signaled his opposition to both a carbon tax and a clean electricity standard.
A carbon tax functions as a surcharge on goods and services or industries that emit carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Similarly, the proposed clean electricity standard would give federal subsidies to utilities if they switched from coal and natural gas to solar and wind power. Under the plan, electric utilities that failed to reach a certain carbon reduction threshold annually would face several financial penalties.
Mr. Manchin has told lawmakers he would be unable to support either because of their adverse impact on coal and natural gas, two resources vital to West Virginia’s economy.
Since Democrats planned to push the package along party lines in the 50-50 split Senate, Mr. Manchin’s opposition effectively killed the proposals.
The activists staging the hunger strike are not sympathetic, however. While blaming Mr. Manchin for his intransigence towards tackling climate change, they argued that the responsibility to act ultimately fell on the White House.
“It’s us, or Joe Manchin and his coal millions. It’s our lives, our families lives and our communities — or Joe Manchin,” they said. “Deliver on your promises.”
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