McConnell slams Biden Climate Corps as ‘taxpayer-funded pipeline’ to turn activists into bureaucrats
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell laid into President Biden for using his executive power to create the American Climate Corps, a New Deal-style jobs training program that will pay 20,000 young people to go into careers fighting climate change.
“While the administration works overtime to freeze sensible development like energy pipelines, its latest initiative would essentially set up a taxpayer-funded pipeline for turning climate activists into climate bureaucrats,” the Kentucky Republican said in a floor speech Thursday.
The White House unveiled the federal program Wednesday following years of intense lobbying from environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers.
Mr. Biden was unsuccessful in an earlier attempt to create a similar multibillion-dollar initiative through Democrats’ tax-and-climate spending law known as the Inflation Reduction Act.
“We’re opening up pathways to good-paying careers, lifetimes of being involved in the work of making our communities more fair, more sustainable, more resilient,” White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi told reporters this week.
There are many details left to be answered by administration officials, including specifics about the types of jobs, how much the program will pay, its overall funding cost, and the source of funding.
Some job examples include learning how to install solar panels, restoring coastal wetlands and working as electricians for green technologies.
Mr. McConnell suggested the program was a “profoundly tone-deaf” idea to create amid high inflation and compared the program to a Potemkin village designed to deceive American taxpayers.
“There’s no Hoover Dam or Lincoln Tunnel on the other side of this nonsense spending. Just Potemkin jobs and a new make-work program when there’s plenty of work to go around,” he said. “Activists are calling it ‘climate justice.’ But it doesn’t sound like justice to the working families just trying to get by on President Biden’s watch.”
One of the first initiatives will be in conjunction with AmeriCorps, which will help run the Climate Corps, and the U.S. Forest Service to create a $15 million Forest Corps.
Eighty hires will begin next summer to “conserve national forests and grasslands, mitigate risks of wildfires in high-risk regions, and support reforestation efforts and wildfire crisis response,” AmeriCorps said.
Forest Corps hires will receive a “compensation package” worth $15 an hour, along with lodging, transportation, clothing, a living allowance and health benefits.
Mr. Biden’s Climate Corps is modeled after President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, created under the New Deal in 1933.
Climate activists, a key constituency for Mr. Biden in 2024, and Democrats lauded the new program as a continuation of the president’s green agenda.
“There will not be a future for this planet unless we all come together and make a radical transition from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, and that is what the Climate Corps project is all about,” Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist who caucuses with Democrats, told reporters.