Sunday, December 3

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

“I think the President is very much, and very compelled 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 problem is so significant that, as he said on Friday, he will find an executive order and rule change path to get there,” Bernstein told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

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

“Inflation is absolutely killing many, many people. They can’t buy gasoline. They have a hard time buying groceries,” Manchin told a West Virginia radio host on Friday. “Everything they buy and consume for their daily lives is a hardship to them. Can’t we wait to make sure we do nothing to add 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, restoring emissions standards rolled back by the Trump administration and ramping up offshore wind energy production.

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

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

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Bernstein also defended the President’s decision to meet — and fist bump — this week with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, telling Bash that, as an economic policy adviser, “I’m much more able to give you fulsome readout on meetings, not greetings” and that last week’s meeting in Saudi Arabia “is very much part of” the administration’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 that it would increase its capacity for oil production, and I refer you to them for more information there, but remember, Saudi Arabia is part of, of course, a part of OPEC, part of the cartel,” Bernstein said. “And the President has been, and other, some of our other members of our foreign policy team have been pressuring OPEC to increase production. And in fact, a few weeks ago, they talked about doing precisely that for July and August, increasing production by about 50%.”

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters earlier that the administration was “hopeful” OPEC would commit to additional actions aimed at increasing oil output “in the coming weeks,” and that Biden and OPEC leaders would discuss the issue while in Saudi Arabia last week.

CNN’s Ella Nilsen contributed to this report.

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