Senate approves $37 billion bill to fund climate projects

× Expand Priyanka Motaparthy Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., second from left, and other lawmakers celebrate on the Senate floor after the Senate passed a climate bill in 2010.

U.S. senators of both parties are voting Thursday afternoon on whether to approve a $37 billion measure that would be the nation’s largest expenditure on climate-related projects.

On February 7, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved H.R. 1319, which would provide $37 billion for such projects as clean air, clean water, and infrastructure that help to minimize the impact of climate change. The measure is still awaiting floor consideration in the Senate.

Environmental groups on Thursday said the measure would provide a down payment on climate change adaptation projects, which they said would go a long way toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill, however, would spend less than half of the $100 billion that President Obama had wanted to fund adaptation projects.

“This vote is the first step in fixing our broken energy and climate system. Passage of H.R. 1319 will be a critical first step to taking on climate change,” said Emily Rauhala, communications director of the Sierra Club, in a press release.

But senior lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have argued that H.R. 1319 cannot fulfill the president’s goals for climate-related spending.

In April, McConnell argued that the bill did not take enough of a “partisan approach” to provide funding for the climate-related projects, including financing needed for cleaner energy and energy efficiency.

“This House bill is not anywhere near what we need to make a difference in our fight against climate change,” McConnell said.

The Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and other environmentalists are expected to pressure senators to oppose the bill, calling it insufficient.

“If Republicans want to show they care about our climate, they’ll introduce new legislation to do so,” said the Sierra Club’s Rauhala.

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