Moderate Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin implored Senate Republicans to pass his permitting reform side deal.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin begged his Republican colleagues to support the deal he secured with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to reform the energy permitting system in the U.S. Manchin’s deal is flailing because of opposition from both Republicans and progressive Democrats. If the Senate cannot reach a deal, it may jeopardize a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.
“[T]his is a chance in a lifetime for us to have energy independence,” Manchin told host Shannon Bream. “For us to have security in this nation, which we need, and making sure that we can take care of the American people with low energy prices, producing more oil, producing more gas. But we have to have permitting reform if you’re going to deliver it. You have no way of infrastructure to deliver it. So, everyone knows that. My Republican friends know that.”
Manchin dismissed an alternative piece of legislation put forth by 46 of his Republican colleagues, calling it a “messaging bill”; and claimed that his bill includes everything in the Republican bill.
He also dismissed criticism from progressive Democrats who voiced their opposition. “I never expected Bernie Sanders and the far extreme left to ever be for any permitting,” said Manchin. “They’ve never been for permitting reform. That’s why we never had it. [But this] is one time when overwhelmingly, Democrats in both the House and the Senate are supporting … We have a golden opportunity and we have a majority, overwhelming majority of Democrats supporting it. This is the most important thing that we can do today.”
“[T]he process has come down to party line vote which is unfortunate, but it is what we’re dealing with in a toxic political atmosphere,” Manchin concluded. “But I can assure you, everybody, we try to take everyone’s input on this and my Republican friends’ input is in this piece of legislation.”
Democrats in the Senate are expected to move forward with a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. But continued squabbling over the details of Manchin’s permitting reform legislation threatens to tank the government funding bill.
The deal began to fall apart early this month, when more than 70 progressive Democrats in the House signed a letter to House Democratic Leadership signaling their opposition. A week later, Republicans blasted Manchin’s proposal for not going far enough, and proposed permitting reform legislation of their own. This week, Progressive Democrats in the Senate, led by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, announced opposition to the bill as well.