You may recall that as part of the deal that made Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) sign the Inflation Reduction Act was that he would be getting a permitting deal and that the backend would move forward the approval for the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia.
But who could have predicted that he might get shafted on that backend if he went along with what the Democratic leadership truly wanted first and didn’t have his deal jointly voted on with the IRA? Except for everyone.
Now that it’s coming time for the backend. While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he would include the permitting deal as part of the government funding bill to be voted on this month, nearly a third of House Democrats are saying they’re not on board with it.
Seventy-one House Democrats penned a letter to Pelosi, D-Calif., warning that the bill’s inclusion will force them to seriously consider voting against the short-term government funding measure, known as a continuing resolution.
“In the face of the existential threats like climate change and MAGA extremism, House and Senate leadership has a greater responsibility than ever to avoid risking a government shutdown by jamming divisive policy riders into a must-pass continuing resolution,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who spearheaded the letter. “Permitting reform hurts already-overburdened communities, puts polluters on an even faster track, and divides the caucus.”
Signing on to the letter was a wide cross-section of the House Democratic Conference.
Signatories included not just progressive firebrands, like Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, but also leadership allies. The latter included Reps. Joe Neguse of Colorado and Debbie Dingell of Michigan, whom Pelosi has tasked with leading the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
Progressives being the progressives they are have no problem throwing Manchin under the bus.
“We will be united in defeating the separate Manchin ‘permitting reforms’ that will accelerate climate change and pollute Black, brown, Indigenous and low-income communities,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. “Manchin went back on his word to get [Build Back Better] done, and we owe him nothing now.”
Schumer may have promised him knowing that many Democrats wouldn’t go along with it.
It’s not clear what all the aspects of the permitting deal are yet but in addition to moving the Pipeline along, it would require reviews for proposed energy projects (to not have things be perpetually stalled) and it would require more leasing auctions for drilling on federal land.
So the question may be how the Republicans vote on this and some like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are saying they wouldn’t vote for the funding stopgap bill because they believe Manchin tricked them into voting for the bill on semiconductors without saying he was going to vote for even more spending with the IRA. “I will not vote for a resolution that is part of a political payback scheme,” Graham has said.
Meanwhile, the funding bill also has flood relief that might make it hard for the Kentucky senators to vote against it. It also includes another $11.7 billion for Ukraine as well as $3.9 billion for vaccines and treatment for monkeypox. So if Democrats don’t vote for the bill, they’d be voting against aid for Ukraine and vaccines which would be highly ironic.