GOP, Progressives resist Manchin-Schumer energy deal, putting government funding bill on shaky ground

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CNN

A deal struck to win Sen. Joe Manchin’s support for the Democrats’ controversial Cut Inflation Act now creates problems for another major issue looming over Congress: government funding to avoid a shutdown here. the end of the month.

As he pledged to support the sweeping health care and energy bill this summer, Manchin won assurances from top Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to push forward a plan that would speed up the permitting and environmental review process for energy projects — including a major pipeline that would run through his state of West Virginia. Schumer pledged to include the White House-backed deal in legislation to keep government agencies afloat beyond Sept. 30.

But an unlikely alliance is forming between progressives alarmed by the deal’s potential impact on the environment and Senate Republicans still furious that Manchin voted to secure passage of the health care and health care bill. energy. Now, the GOP is in no mood to give Manchin a win he would no doubt boast ahead of a tough 2024 re-election bid, as they criticize the proposed deal as too skinny.

“There will be people who will worry about loading the Manchin provision onto the CR as part of what many of our people think is a backroom deal that was made with the Democrats a long time ago,” said the South Dakota Senator John. Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, referring to the Continuing Resolution, or CR, to fund federal agencies.

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a prominent GOP member on the appropriations committee, called the Manchin-Schumer deal “raw politics” and stopped short of saying he would oppose the provisional measure if the agreement was included in it.

“It bothers a lot of people on the left because it’s against what they believe in terms of the environment,” Shelby said. “And on the right, [people believe] it is a crude political agreement. What’s going to happen ? I do not know.”

Growing opposition has questioned whether the stopgap measure has the votes to pass both chambers by the end of the month, as some members of Schumer’s caucus tell leaders permission changes should be discussed outside of a spending bill or oppose the effort altogether.

But Schumer pledged on Tuesday to include the plan in the continuing resolution.

“I will add it to the CR and it will pass,” Schumer said flatly, characterizing the authorization measure as part of the climate and health care bill already passed by Democrats.

Manchin played down GOP threats.

“It’s all about the country – the security that we need and energy security,” Manchin told CNN when asked about the Republicans’ comments. “I think they’re going to rise above that. I really do.”

The Senate can attempt to pass the bill first, as long as 10 GOP senators support the measure. A Senate Democratic aide said the hope is that Democrats in the House will end up backing the bill if it passes the Senate first – given that there will be a more imminent deadline for avoid a shutdown — and since House Democrats have yet to explicitly say they won’t vote for the bill if the plan is included.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat and chair of the House Appropriations Committee, told CNN on Tuesday that “personally, I do not support adding” the authorization plan to the funding bill.

But she added: ‘We are definitely not shutting down the government.

The Manchin-Schumer deal also includes incentives for one of Manchin’s pet projects: the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a long-delayed natural gas pipeline that would cross West Virginia and Virginia if completed.

The pipeline has been successfully challenged in court for years; the license agreement would essentially speed it up. The agreement includes language that would “compel the relevant agencies to take all necessary steps to permit the construction and operation” of the pipeline and give the DC Circuit jurisdiction over any future lawsuits.

It raised eyebrows among Democrats, including Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who said he raised concerns about the pipeline’s impacts on his state up to Manchin. Kaine told CNN he also wants to tackle licensing reform outside of the spending bill.

Other Democrats expressed similar sentiments — particularly in the House, where more than 75 people co-signed a letter to House leadership against its commitment to the interim measure, expressing frustration both with the content of the agreement and the fact that they had very little input on this.

“We don’t like it. We didn’t agree,” Washington state Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told CNN on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, most Senate Republicans support another authorizing bill crafted by Manchin’s colleague in West Virginia, Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Several Republicans also told CNN they think permits shouldn’t be included in a must-have spending bill.

Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the GOP leadership who is also the most Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, railed against Manchin, the panel chairman, on Tuesday over the agreement he made with Schumer.

“We have Joe Manchin trying to hide behind a fig leaf of a deal he made with Chuck Schumer,” the Wyoming Republican said Tuesday.

“I would say to my friend Joe Manchin, who is the chairman of the Energy Committee, what they are celebrating today in the White House is the damage you have already done by passing this irresponsible bill . You voted for it, and if you’re now looking for Republicans to support you and give you more coverage than you currently have, you’re not going to find it with us.

House progressives are angered both by the substance of the Manchin-Schumer deal and the way it came to be.

While the text of the bill is still being drafted, the original agreement contained several provisions aimed at streamlining environmental permits for major energy projects, including environmental reviews lasting up to two years through of the National Environmental Policy Act.

As Manchin wielded maximum leverage in past negotiations in Congress, the tables have turned. House Democrats have already gotten the climate and health care bill they wanted in the Cut Inflation Act, and many feel little pressure to give in to Manchin’s new demands without begging. to beat.

“It’s the worst process imaginable, it’s not a process at all,” Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman of California told CNN. Huffman said he would be open to a close deal to speed up the permitting of clean energy projects, but he is wary of anything that would advance fossil fuel projects or gut existing environmental permit laws.

“Whether [Manchin’s] complaining about how environmental laws have gotten in the way of some of his favorite pipelines and fossil fuel projects, there’s a reason for that,” Huffman said. “I think we’re trying to speak very clearly in favor of a clean CR. It’s hard to accept a clean CR for everyone except Joe Manchin.

Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders paused before calling on House Progressives to vote against an interim spending bill if authorizing reform is attached.

“I’m thrilled to see that several dozen of them understand that the world is on fire,” Sanders, a Vermont freelancer, told CNN. “I really hope somehow that this provision will be removed.”

Jayapal said House progressives are open to discussing other ways to pass the authorizing reform — as long as they have a say in how it’s written. She launched a proposal attached to the annual Defense Policy Bill later that year.

“It would give some members of the House a chance to really grapple with what is the right to allow reform here,” Jayapal said.

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