WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Joe Biden made his first trip to the West coast since taking office Monday, visiting Idaho, where wildfires have ravaged millions of acres.
He was there not just to assess the damage, but also to drum up support for proposed spending on initiatives to combat climate change.
Biden visited the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise to survey some of the damage caused by 22 wildfires burning in Idaho.
“Five point four million acres burned,” Biden said. “That’s larger than the entire state of New Jersey.”
He called for bold action to address climate change contributing to increasingly aggressive wildfires.
“The reality is we have a global warming problem,” Biden said. “It only can get worse.”
He said his $3.5 billion Build Back Better plan could help.
“$14 billion for disaster needs, including $9 billion for communities hit with wildfire and drought,” he listed. “We’ve got to pass it.”
The bill also aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
On Capitol Hill, getting Republicans on board is still an uphill battle. They say the plan is too expensive and includes harmful policies.
“This should be called ‘build more inflation act,'” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said at a Monday hearing.
“This is a big introduction of the ‘Green New Deal,'” Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said, calling the package a Trojan horse. “It’ll create social injustices. It’ll double the price of your utilities at home.”
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the country must address the growing climate crisis.
“After yet another summer marked by hurricanes, floods and wildfires, we cannot hold off on taking action any longer,” he said. “The world is looking to us for leadership on climate change.”
Biden will also visit California and Denver to pitch the plan.