‘Sleazy backroom deal’: Progressives tangle with Manchin once again

“It’s a tale of two houses,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California), criticizing Schumer and Manchin’s deal to undertake permit reform in return for his vote on the party line bill as a “sleazy behind-the-scenes deal.”

It all comes in the form of the last big internal Democrat fight ahead of the midterm elections, a rare remaining sore spot for a party that is largely and ultimately united on everything from abortion to the economy to marriage. homosexual. And after almost an entire Congress defined by the Senate 50-50, the House has a leading role: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pledges to vote against the authorization bill if it is tied to government funding, but Lower House Progressives offer the main intraparty resistance to Manchin’s plan.

The Senate plans to pass a short-term funding bill with reform allowing just before the September 30 deadline, audacious Grijalva and his allies to risk a close fight over the issue, according to several Democrats familiar with the plan. . In an interview on Monday, Manchin didn’t seem worried about the fate of his proposal: “I think common sense should prevail sooner or later.”

The text of Manchin’s authorization bill is not yet public, but senior Democratic officials in both houses are downplaying the risk of disaster. Several lawmakers and aides said they believe there is a path to a modified deal that could win over Grijalva and other House Democrats while keeping Manchin on board.

A key motivating factor: Many clean energy advocates say a licensing deal as envisioned by Manchin’s original framework would benefit renewable projects, including wind and solar generation, even if it would accelerate also some fossil fuel pipelines, such as the long mountain valley natural wedging. gas line that comes from the senator’s home state.

Allowing reform, as Manchin put it, means “we are able to have the energy security our country needs now.” Referring to new transmission lines for renewable energy, he added: “And as we move towards the transition [to clean energy], you can do it with the necessary infrastructure. … I like to think that people are pragmatic and not political.”

The centrist from West Virginia said he understands if House Democrats are still worried about the downsizing he imposed on their original national agenda. Still, liberals on Capitol Hill swear their opposition to his plan is no retribution for two years of Manchin-induced headaches — from his overhaul of the $1 trillion-plus Build Back Better Bill to smaller Inflation Reduction Actto the House’s forced endorsement of last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, derided by some on the left as essentially a Republican effort.

Instead, House Democrats say it’s about what they see as an environmentally dangerous permit deal that undermines some of the climate provisions they won in this new law. summer.

Still, a few Democrats admit they’re relishing their chance to wield some influence in West Virginia.

“About time,” the retired rep joked. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who joined about 70 Democrats in urging the party leadership to separate Manchin’s bill from government funding.

“It’s a pretty big vote and we shouldn’t play games with it to make it unbeatable,” Yarmuth said, adding that he and other House Democrats never signed. “That’s totally Schumer’s business. I am not bound by the Schumer agreement.

There is another big incentive to limit the explosion radius of permit combat. Democrats enter the pre-midterm period with a particular focus on preventing self-inflicted political injury, including the possibility of shutdown. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Said he needed to see the permission text before he could say whether he would support it, but urged his party to be strategic in choosing fights that could endanger a patch of government funding.

“It could be that people are looking for leverage,” Murphy said of the Democrats’ positioning. “Or it could be that House members are still mad at Joe Manchin.”

If the permit push impacts the Senate funding bill this month, the House Majority Leader Hoyer Walls (D-Md.) hinted at the steep rise — and possible education campaign — that skeptical Democrats in his chamber might need to sign off on.

“There’s no question it’s controversial,” Hoyer told Bloomberg TV on Monday of Manchin’s clearance plan. “And we will have to convince our members that the language that is brought in does not harm our environment.”

Manchin said Schumer and Pelosi remained firm in their commitments to him: “I believe exactly what they told me…they see exactly what this country needs and why we need to make sure we need to be the superpower of the world. world. He said he was encouraged by the release of a competing permissions reform bill on Monday by dozens of Senate Republicans as a sign of bipartisan support for his ideas.

The road to a possible permitting law still looks bumpy, with some of the country’s most vocal environmental groups being galvanized in their own missives opposing what they called a “fossil fuel wish list” that would perpetuate “environmental racism”, among other effects. Some climate activist groups have already staged protests.

In a recent interview, Grijalva did not say whether he and other progressives were “ready to tear the whole ship down” and trigger a standoff over government funding. But he said any licensing bill led by Manchin would face “a lot of resistance” without meaningful changes.

And while Democrats applauded their summer’s huge climate gains in Manchin’s party-line bill, many progressives feel they owe him nothing on the separate issue of energy permits. Huffman said that while some of the bill might end up being “good policy,” he stressed that it needed to be looked at “in the light of day — not in a back room with Joe Manchin.”

Beyond Sanders, progressives on the Senate side are staying out of the fray for now and calling for a pragmatic approach. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), which has previously backed the licensing deal, said disagreements within the Democratic coalition are natural, but “like it or not, in order to build the kind of clean energy we want, we’re going to have to change some federal laws.”

Josh Siegel contributed to this report.

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