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Senate Democrats 'seriously' discussing national plastic tax: Schumer

The plastic tax could mirror a proposal from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, which would implement a 20-cent fee per pound on sale of new plastics

Updated: September 8, 2021 - 11:57am

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Senate Democrats are "looking at" and "seriously" discussing a national plastic tax as part of their $3.5 trillion filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.

"On the carbon and methane and plastic that you talked about, all those things are being looked at and seriously discussed," Schumer, of New York, told reporters on a press call. 

Schumer said Democrats are attempting to meet President Biden's "bold goal" of making 80% of electricity in the U.S. "clean and green" by 2030 and reaching a 50% reduction of carbon emissions. 

The plastic tax could mirror a proposal from Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, which would implement a 20-cent fee per pound on the sale of new plastics.

"A fee on the production of virgin plastic would give the market a stronger incentive to use recycled plastics," Whitehouse's office said in a press release. "It would also ensure the plastics industry bears some of the burden for the environmental damage it causes."

Democrats are also considering new taxes on carbon and methane as part of the budget bill, which contains new federal programs to expand the social safety net in the U.S. 

Product prices are on the rise with inflation hitting a 13-year high. Despite inflation concerns among consumers, Democratic leaders signaled on Wednesday that they are sticking to a $3.5 trillion price-tag for their reconciliation bill.

Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has said $3.5 trillion is too high. Addressing Manchin's criticism, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee chairman, said his original reconciliation framework was $6 trillion so $3.5 trillion represents a compromise within the Democratic caucus.

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