(Reuters) -A critical piece of U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, which would replace coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy, will likely be dropped from the budget bill pending in Congress, the New York Times reported on Friday.
White House staffers are revising the legislation due to strong opposition from Senator Joe Manchin, the centrist Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia whose vote is crucial to its passage the newspaper said, citing sources familiar with the matter.
“Senator Manchin has clearly expressed his concerns about using taxpayer dollars to pay private companies to do things they’re already doing,” Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon told Reuters in a statement.
“He continues to support efforts to combat climate change while protecting American energy independence and ensuring our energy reliability,” Runyon said.
The White House had no comment on the New York Times report on Friday evening.
Both Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist from Arizona, have objected to the initial $3.5 trillion price tag for Biden’s spending plan to fund social programs and fight climate change. As a result, the president faces a difficult balancing act in trying to bring down the cost but not alienate progressive Democrats who also are essential to passing the legislation. In the evenly split Senate, every Democratic vote will be needed for passage.
Following a meeting this month on Capitol Hill with his fellow Democrats, Biden suggested the bill could be trimmed to around $2 trillion over 10 years.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)