Democratic Holdouts On Build Back Better Act Are Facing Steep Costs From Climate Impacts In Their Home Districts

The Only Fiscally Responsible Choice Is Bold Climate Action Now

This week, the House of Representatives is returning to session and Democrats are expected to hold a final vote to pass the most significant climate legislation in U.S. history: the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). The BBBA is the core of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, and is supported by more than 60% voters across the country. The bill will create millions of new good-paying union jobs and make a transformational down payment on America’s clean energy future—but only if Democrats pass it.

Despite the fact that the BBBA is fully paid for, a handful of Democratic holdouts have delayed passage of the bill to await further information from the Congressional Budget Office on how the bill will impact the federal deficit. Meanwhile, back home in their districts, the constituents of these Democratic holdouts are already contending with the rising costs of climate impacts and threats posed by the climate crisis to critical infrastructure and local industry. 

“We don’t need to wait on a CBO report to know that the American people are already paying the price of climate inaction, and those costs are skyrocketing,” said Evergreen Action Campaigns Director Lena Moffitt“The Democratic holdouts can see the economic damage of climate change in their own backyards: from ‘rain bombs’ on Oahu, to the threat to lobstering jobs in Maine, to a historic heat wave in Oregon. 

The House Democratic holdouts must keep their word and vote on the Build Back Better Act this week. Voting for bold climate action is the only fiscally responsible option.”

This year, we’re on track to break the record for the most billion dollar climate disasters in a single year—and that record was set only last year. Here’s a roundup of just a few examples of how the constituents of Democratic holdouts on the BBBA are already paying the price of climate inaction:

Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05)

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At least three cars stalled in floodwaters at a Hackensack intersection in Tropical Storm Elsa’s wake. [, 7/8/21]

Tropical Storm Elsa brought unprecedented floods to cities and towns in Rep. Gottheimer’s district this past July. 

NEWS12: ELSA'S AFTERMATH: Hackensack gets hit hard by flooding

"A lot of people were caught off guard because the amount of rain that fell. [...] We had calls from Maywood and Teaneck to see if we could assist them because they had vehicles stuck in water they've never had before," said Hackensack Fire Department Capt. Justin Derevyanik.” 

CBS New York: Tracking Elsa: Bergen County Bears Brunt Of Storm Damage As Severe Weather Hammers Tri-State Area

“One homeowner has a huge mess on her hands after a massive, mature oak tree fell from a neighbor’s yard, across the fence and pierced the top floor of her Tudor home on Heights Road. ‘I was just like everybody pick up everything and move it,’ she told CBS2’s Jessica Layton. ‘I started screaming up the stairs, ‘Are you alright? Are you alright?’ And she came running down with a phone and laptop, and she was like, ‘A tree went through Abigail’s bedroom.'’ Splintered portions of the tree, the roof and insulation now hang from that bedroom ceiling, but with holes in the roof, it was raining inside the home, too, causing the ceiling in another room to bubble up and leak. ‘The water is just pouring down. It’s now flooded the basement,’ the homeowner said.”


Jared Golden (ME-02)

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“Dave Cousens has benefited from the lobster boom but said he was concerned about the future of the business.” [New York Times, 6/21/18]

Lobstering is central to Maine’s economy, but climate change poses an existential threat to the industry. 

The New York Times: Climate Change Brought a Lobster Boom. Now It Could Cause a Bust.

“Since the early 1980s, climate change had warmed the Gulf of Maine’s cool waters to the ideal temperature for lobsters [...]. Now, scientists and some fishermen are worried that the waters might eventually warm too much for the lobsters, and are asking how much longer the boom can last. ‘Climate change really helped us for the last 20 years,’ said Dave Cousens, who stepped down as president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association in March. But, he added, ‘Climate change is going to kill us, in probably the next 30. [...] We’re past the point of climate change helping us. We’re on the downward spiral,’ Mr. Cousens said, as he dragged up a kelp-entangled trap.” 


Ed Case (HI-01)

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“People stand at the edge of floodwaters along Haleiwa Road on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Haleiwa, Hawaii. Torrential rains have inundated parts of Hawaii for the past several days.” [AP, 3/10/21]

Climate change-driven flooding is hitting Rep. Case’s district hard. 

 AP: Hawaii’s rains, floods cited as examples of climate change

“‘This is really an example of climate change in the present day,’ Suzanne Case, the head of the state agency that regulates the dam, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said in a statement. ‘We have a flood emergency because of the heavy rain bomb. And we’re seeing these more and more across the island chain – more frequent and more extreme events.’ [...] Honolulu firefighters on Tuesday rescued a 27-year-old man after his truck was swept down a stream. They found him standing on the truck’s roof. On Wednesday, they suspended another search for an individual a witness saw in a stream in Pearl City.”


Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

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In this June 26, 2021, file photo, Salem Fire Department paramedics respond to a heat exposure call at a cooling center during a heat wave in Salem, Ore. [AP, 7/13/21]

Oregon suffered a record-breaking 2021 heat wave that killed more than 100 in the state. 

Salem Statesman Journal: Salem again topples all-time heat record, but major cooldown coming this evening

“Salem broke its all-time record for heat on Monday, toppling a record set less than 24 hours earlier [...] The mercury hit 117 degrees in the capital city by early afternoon, toppling the previous record high of 113 set on Sunday.”

The Guardian: Record-breaking US Pacific north-west heatwave killed almost 200 people

“The death toll from the record-breaking heatwave that struck the US Pacific north-west last week has risen to nearly 200, with health authorities reporting 116 deaths in Oregon and 78 in Washington state.”


Stephanie Murphy (FL-07)

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Flash flooding opened a sinkhole in Sanford, FL. [WFTV, 9/19/21]

Storms made stronger by climate change are driving unprecedented flooding in Rep. Murphy’s district. 

Click Orlando: Flooding in unincorporated Seminole County has gotten worse, neighbors say

“Harold Jordan is a volunteer cook at the Midway Safe Harbor Center. He and his wife Mattie are both retired and serve up 700 meals per week to Seminole County students. [...] The couple is passionate about their community and about its problems. Harold Jordan said one of the biggest problems is flooding. When it rains, streets flood, yards flood and drainage ditches hit capacity, according to Harold Jordan. The flooding has gotten worse since newer neighborhoods have been built at a higher elevation than the older homes, Harold Jordan said. ‘It creates a bowl, all the way around us, everywhere you go there’s a bowl,’ Harold Jordan said. ‘We never had the problem of so much flooding in our area as we do now.’”

WFTV: ‘Completely flooded’: Record rainfall leads to flash floods, large washout in Sanford

“Afternoon storms flooded areas of Central Florida on Sunday, including Sanford, which prompted road closures and warnings from law enforcement. [...] Yards were flooded out, cars stalled out in the high water and a truck was stuck in the mud. Neighbors said they’ve seen flooding before – but never this bad. [...] It’s all the way up to my driveway. It’s flooded the side yard, the backyard that side over there,’ said Sanford homeowner Tony Bellioni. ‘Completely flooded; everything is underwater.’” 


 Kathleen Rice (NY-04)

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Flooding on Nassau County’s South Shore. [City Signal, 10/13/21]

Hurricane Sandy decimated communities in Rep. Rice’s district on the South Shore of Nassau County. 

Bloomberg City Lab: On Long Island, Failure to Absorb Sandy’s Lessons

“In Island Park, a small village tucked away on a densely-populated islet on the south shore Nassau County [...] Sandy hit particularly hard, leading to the damage of 95 percent of the community’s housing stock.”

ABC7NY: Long Island hit with heavy rain from nor'easter

“There have been at least three storms in the last year that have brought flooding and downed trees. Ida was not even two months ago, and there is still a lot of damage that residents are recovering from across Nassau County. [...] Some residents are still recovering, years after Superstorm Sandy.”

 City Signal: Climate Change on Nassau County’s South Shore

“On September 21, 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [...] released a ‘tentatively selected plan’ (TSP) to raise 14,183 Nassau County homes and dry flood proof an additional 2,667 businesses and commercial buildings in the county. The area in question runs from Valley Stream to East Massapequa, south to the shore. The TSP affects 350,000 residents—over half the county’s population. [...] Today, only 11% of homes in Nassau County are required to have flood insurance, but in the South Shore the percentage of homes considered at risk for flooding in the coming decades is well over 50%.”