Prior to leaving office, President Donald Trump re-upped his declaration of a national emergency at the US southern border, extending extra powers and resources to the Department of Homeland Security to address it. However, Biden has sought to roll back many of Trump’s measures via executive order.
Likewise, the coronavirus was declared a national health emergency, allowing both presidents to invoke measures such as the Defense Production Act, which requires private companies to assist in the national effort for vaccine production and distribution.
But Schumer downplayed those concerns, instead underscoring the greater threat posed by the emissions of carbon-dioxide gasses from sources such as methane from cow flatulence.
“Now, Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which wasn’t an emergency,” Schumer told MSNBC on Monday. “But if there ever was an emergency, climate is one.”
Prior to Trump’s arrival in office and campaign promises for stricter immigration, Schumer himself had been a strong advocate of tough immigration policies.
Declaring a national emergency would give Biden more power over how to combat climate change, Schumer explained, including being able to direct additional funding.
“He can do many, many things under the emergency powers that he could do without legislation,” he said.
Biden has pledged to make climate change a top priority, especially now that Democrats control both chambers of Congress.
He already issued several climate-related executive orders, including rejoining the Paris climate agreement and rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit, and he is set to impose a moratorium this week on new federal oil and gas leases, according to the Washington Post.
Even though Democrats hold razor-thin majorities in both the House and the Senate, Schumer noted that passing climate change-related legislation would still be difficult—especially in the Senate, where a single defection in the 50–50 power share would give Republicans the advantage.
Much of West Virginia’s economy is based around coal mining, which would likely be banned under radical initiatives such as the Green New Deal.
Biden suggested on the campaign trail that coal miners should instead “learn to code,” suggesting they replace their obsolete trade by developing computer skills.
But that is not likely to play well with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is considered the most likely swing vote in the Senate.
However, Schumer vowed not to let Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the rest of the opposition stand in the way of Biden’s agenda.
“Mitch McConnell will not dictate to the Senate what we should do and how we should proceed,” Schumer said on Sunday. “McConnell is no longer the majority leader … McConnell is standing in the way. He will not dictate to us how we move forward.”