Manchin Asks That Permitting Bill Be Cut From Continuing Resolution
WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., bowed to the inevitable on Tuesday and requested that his permitting reform bill be removed from the stopgap spending bill currently before the Senate.
Manchin had sought a vote on the bill, which would fast track permitting for energy projects, including those related to fossil fuels, in return for his support of what eventually became known as the Infrastructure Reform Act.
But Republicans were incensed by the deal Manchin struck with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and vowed to kill the bill if they could.
In recent days Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been whipping hard against the legislation, and on Tuesday he savaged the proposal on the Senate floor, putting additional pressure on fellow Republicans to vote no.
“The poison pill is a phony attempt to address an important topic of permitting reform,” McConnell said.
“What our Democratic colleagues have produced is a phony fig leaf that would actually set back the cause of real permitting reform,” he continued. “Amazingly our Democratic colleagues have managed to write language that would actually — listen to this — make things even worse.”
For Manchin to see his permitting bill come to fruition, he would need 10-12 votes from Republicans to make up for the opposition from several Democrats who feel the legislation will foster more oil and gas development.
In the alternative, Schumer and Manchin planned to roll the permitting bill into the continuing resolution and then send the combined package to the House — essentially providing cover for the controversial legislation by making it part of the must-pass spending bill.
But with government funding set to run out Friday at midnight, and Manchin unable to rouse Republican votes on his own, the senator finally conceded he couldn’t win.
“It is unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk,” he said in a written statement. “The last several months, we have seen firsthand the destruction that is possible as Vladimir Putin continues to weaponize energy.
“A failed vote on something as critical as comprehensive permitting reform only serves to embolden leaders like Putin who wish to see America fail. For that reason and my firmly held belief that we should never come to the brink of a government shutdown over politics, I have asked Majority Leader Schumer to remove the permitting language from the continuing resolution we will vote on this evening,” he said.
“Over the last several weeks there has been broad consensus on the urgent need to address our nation’s flawed permitting system. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to move forward on this critical legislation to meet the challenges of delivering affordable reliable energy Americans desperately need,” Manchin continued. “We should never depend on other countries to supply the energy we need when we can produce it here at home. Accelerating the construction of energy infrastructure is critical to delivering that energy to the American people and our allies around the world. Inaction is not a strategy for energy independence and security.”