White House economic adviser says Biden will pursue climate agenda ‘with or without congress’

“I think the president is very much obliged to get Congress to work with him on his climate agenda. He’s already taken unprecedented action, and I think this is important because if he can’t find a legislative path to clean energy, the urgency of the issue is so important that, as he said Friday, he will find an executive order and a rule change to get there,” Bernstein told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

During his trip to the Middle East on Friday, Biden said he would take “strong executive measures” in response to Manchin walking away from a deal to tackle the climate crisis, citing concerns over spending and inflation.

“Inflation is definitely killing many, many people. They can’t buy gas. They’re having a hard time shopping,” Manchin told a radio host in West Virginia on Friday. “Everything they buy and consume for their daily lives is a burden to them. Can’t we wait to make sure we don’t add anything to that?”

Bernstein on Sunday listed a series of steps the administration has already taken to address the climate crisis, including invoking the Defense Production Act to increase clean energy output, reinstating the Trump administration’s rollback emissions standards and increasing production of offshore wind energy.

“He will continue to pursue that, with or without Congress, but the urgency of the matter, Dana, is, I think, it’s beyond me how anyone could miss it,” he told Bash.

Still, Bernstein touted provisions in the Senate Democrats’ compromise legislation that he said “give Americans a little breathing room” by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and health care.

Also on Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont reprimanded Manchin for throwing a wrench in the attempt to hit the social spending bill, saying, “He didn’t do anything abruptly.”

“The problem was we keep talking to Manchin like he was serious. He wasn’t,” Sanders, an independent who consults caucuses with Senate Democrats, told ABC’s “This Week.”

When asked what’s at stake for the climate agenda if the provisions in the Democrats’ bill don’t pass, Sanders replied, “They’re not Democrats. It’s not the president. It’s the future of the planet.”

“What this election should be about is whether we’re going to vote for candidates who are willing to stand up for working people, stand up for the planet, and have the courage to stand up to the billionaire class that is destroying our economy and dominates our economy. political life,” he added, emphasizing the need to elect more progressives.

Meanwhile, Bernstein defended the president’s decision to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at their meeting on Friday, telling Bash that, as an economic policy adviser, “I am much better able to give you comprehensive information at meetings, not at meetings.” greetings” and that last week’s meeting in Saudi Arabia is “a big part of” the government’s efforts to convince the kingdom to increase oil production capacity.

5 takeaways from Biden's first presidential trip to the Middle East

“We saw Saudi Arabia say it would increase its oil production capacity, and I refer you to them for more information there, but remember that Saudi Arabia is part, of course, part of OPEC, part of it. cartel,” Bernstein said. “And the president, and others, some of our other members of our foreign policy team, pressured OPEC to increase production. And a few weeks ago they even talked about doing just that for July and August, the increase production by about 50%.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan previously told reporters the government was “hopeful” that OPEC would commit to additional actions aimed at increasing oil production “in the coming weeks,” and that Biden and OPEC leaders addressed the issue last week. would discuss Saudi Arabia.

This story has been updated with additional comments.

Ella Nilsen and Alison Main of CNN contributed to this report.

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