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Manchin Blames ‘Revenge Politics’ for GOP Balking on Bill to Help Fast Track Energy Permitting Projects

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Senator Joe Manchin pleaded for Republican support to help pass his plan to fast-track energy permitting projects Tuesday as the prospects for his legislation falter amid pushback from the GOP lawmakers and progressive Democrats.

The legislation, which Manchin said would be released Wednesday, is slated for inclusion on a must-pass stopgap funding bill needed to keep the government operating past the end of this month. But the West Virginia Democrat said Republicans are opposing legislation they would typically support as political payback for his pivotal vote on Democrats’ climate and spending legislation.

“It’s like revenge politics,” Manchin said during a Capitol Hill news conference. “This is not about me.”Manchin has estimated he needs as many as 20 GOP votes in the Senate to overcome Democratic defections on his permitting overhaul plan, which could speed approval of Equitrans Midstream Corp.’s stalled $6.6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline as well as stream-line the federal approval process for clean energy and fossil fuel projects alike.

Manchin has been for days making the case Republicans won’t get another chance to achieve the permitting reform they, and their supporters in the energy industry, have sought for years.

But Republicans have balked at supporting a bill they have yet to see, and some have said they felt betrayed by Manchin who initially opposed Biden’s $2 trillion economic agenda only to vote for a smaller version of it. They argue that the permitting bill is a political payoff for that vote and they want no part of it.

“There is not a lot of enthusiasm for helping Senator Manchin out of his bind,” Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas said.


A Republican version of the bill, introduced by Manchin’s West Virginia colleague, GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito, has the backing of 46 other Republicans, potentially sapping the party’s support for Manchin’s measure.

Manchin on Tuesday said the plan was still to attach his bill to the government funding legislation, which was the product of a deal between Manchin, Democratic leadership and the White House in return for his vote on the earlier climate package. The White House has been “extremely” supportive of his bill, as has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Manchin said.

But passage is far from certain given pushback from both Republicans and progressive Democrats who see the legislation as counter to their climate agenda. That’s setting up a showdown, which could force a government shutdown Oct. 1 if it’s not resolved over the next week.

“If they are going to say we are going to vote to shut down the government because of a personal attack on me we are basically not looking at the good of the country,” Manchin said.

In addition to opposition from more than 70 House Democrats, Green New Deal author Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts said last week he doesn’t support attaching Manchin’s permitting bill to government funding legislation. Senator Bernie Sanders has said he’d vote against the stopgap if Democratic leaders added it.

The Senate is not expected to take up the government funding legislation until the middle of next week, just ahead of an Oct. 1 shutdown deadline.

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