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Opinion | Joe Biden Should Build on Common Ground

Many Republican legislators haven’t caught up with their constituents’ evolving views and still present the issue as a death match between the environment and the economy. Reframing the discussion, Mr. Biden is relentless about talking up green jobs. Making buildings more energy efficient, modernizing the electric grid, installing charging stations for electric vehicles — these are measures that put people back to work.

More narrowly, promoting climate-resilient agriculture has cross-aisle appeal. This June, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate that would set up a certification system, overseen by the Agriculture Department, that would make it easier for farmers, ranchers and other landowners to participate in carbon markets and receive credits for adopting climate-friendly technology. The proposal is favored by the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, a new coalition of environmental and agricultural advocates.

As with infrastructure, policy watchers think green proposals will have a better shot of passing if sold as part of a comprehensive recovery plan. It wouldn’t be the first time. The 2009 economic recovery act included $90 billion for clean energy.

One climate-friendly move that should be quick and painless: The Biden administration can join the international push to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, a class of ozone-depleting refrigerants, by sending the Kigali agreement to the Senate for ratification. More than 100 countries and the European Union have already ratified this amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Globally, HFCs are on their way out, and many U.S. manufacturers back the plan as a way to bring regulatory stability to the market and to avoid losing ground to foreign competitors. Despite this, President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency could not bring itself to embrace the deal, largely for broader ideological reasons. Mr. Biden’s administration will presumably have no such reservations, and the Senate should wave it on through.

Certainly, the pandemic has laid bare flaws in the nation’s health care system. Many of these will require major partisan battles to address. But some relatively targeted issues have bipartisan potential, including relief spending for community health centers. This year, many health systems have been pushed to the breaking point, including in rural areas — giving Republican lawmakers incentive to hop aboard.

Ending surprise medical bills is another bipartisan favorite. After two years of working on this issue, members in both chambers are trying to put through a bipartisan proposal with the must-pass government funding bill. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Representative Richard Neal, had been holding up the effort in favor of his own plan. Something similar happened last December. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been pushing the Massachusetts Democrat to compromise, and, Friday night, a potential deal came together. But if this latest effort falls apart, the new Biden administration may need to step in.

When it comes to aiding lower-income Americans, passing tax credits is often a better bipartisan bet than direct spending. Mr. Biden has proposed temporarily expanding the child tax credit and making it fully refundable. This means that if the credit exceeded the amount of taxes a family owed, the government would issue a check for the difference. Bipartisan variations on this proposal have been introduced in the Senate.

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