On Tuesday, Senator Joe Manchin blasted what he called a “policy of revenge” as liberals in the House and Senate join Republicans in opposing his plan to accelerate permits for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects. energy.
Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to include the permit package in an interim funding bill in exchange for their support of a landmark bill. to contain climate change.
But in the weeks since Biden signed the so-called Inflation Reduction Act last month, Democrats and environmental groups have lined up to oppose the licensing plan, calling it bad for the country and the climate. Climate hawks such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, along with dozens of House members, say the licensing plan should be excluded from the mandatory spending bill.
Many Republicans agree. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, called the permit deal a “political payoff” for Manchin, whose vote on the climate bill was crucial to the bill’s passage.
Manchin’s actions on the climate — including secret negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. — “has generated a lot of bad blood” among Republicans, Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters. “There’s not a lot of sympathy on our side to provide a reward for Senator Manchin.”
At a news conference on Tuesday, Manchin expressed bewilderment at such sentiment, saying he has “never seen” an example of “revenge politics”, with Sanders and the “far-left liberal allying with the Republican leadership” to oppose his plan.
“It’s revenge against one person – me,” Manchin said.
“I’m hearing that the Republican leadership is upset,” he added. “They are not going to give Joe Manchin a win. Well, Joe Manchin is not looking for a win.”
Although the legislative text of his licensing plan has not been made public, Manchin called the draft “extremely balanced good legislation” and one that does not “ignore any environmental review”. years for a major project to be approved.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., released a similar plan that would speed up environmental licensing, but Manchin said her plan should have broader appeal as it would expedite environmental reviews of renewable energy projects as well as fossil fuels. . Manchin’s plan has support from Biden and other Democratic leaders.
But a letter signed by more than 70 House Democrats criticizes the proposal as a “dirty secondary agreement being negotiated behind closed doors, outside of proper government process and the vision of our families and communities that this will profoundly impact.”
If approved, “this agreement will only make it easier for the fossil fuel industry to locate polluting projects in our communities and perpetuate the industry’s practice of focusing destructive pollution projects on communities of color and poor communities,” said the letter, led by O Natural Resources Chamber President Raul Grijalva of Arizona.
Sanders also spoke out against the plan, and Markey said he was concerned that the plan could “negatively impact communities” and environmental justice.
The rift among Democrats could complicate the party’s efforts to focus on this summer’s key legislative victories — including the climate law and a separate bill to boost the semiconductor industry and create more high-tech jobs in the United States — in the next election. term of office. to determine which party controls the House and Senate.
More immediately, the division is testing the ability of Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep enough Democrats in line to avoid a partial government shutdown later in the month.
Schumer said he would attach Manchin’s proposal to the interim funding bill, a promise Manchin said on Tuesday he hopes Schumer will keep.
The licensing plan “will be in” the funding bill to avoid a Sept. 30 government shutdown, Manchin said. If opponents are willing to shut down the government “because of a personal attack on me, that’s what makes people sick with politics,” he added. “It makes me sick about it.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., did not respond directly when asked whether Manchin’s proposed permit would make it difficult to pass the government’s funding bill, known as the rolling resolution.
“We’re going to pass the CR and we’re going to stay here as long as it takes,” Hoyer said Tuesday.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.