No Deal: Manchin’s Permitting Reform Side Deal Cut Out Of Government Funding Bill At The Last Minute

No Deal: Manchin’s Permitting Reform Side Deal Cut Out Of Government Funding Bill At The Last Minute

Moderate Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin won’t be getting his side deal on permitting reform done after all.

Manchin struck a deal with Democratic Leadership to include an overhaul of the U.S. energy permitting system in a continuing budget resolution — to avoid a looming government shutdown — in exchange for his vote on the “Inflation Reduction Act,” the Democrats’ $740 billion tax and spending plan. But Manchin’s deal was on thin ice from the start due to bipartisan opposition. Manchin announced Tuesday afternoon that he had asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to take his reforms out of the funding bill.

“It is unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk,” Manchin said in a statement on Twitter Tuesday. “The last several months, we have seen firsthand the destruction that is possible as Vladimir Putin continues to weaponize energy. A failed vote on something as critical as comprehensive permitting reform only serves to embolden leaders like Putin who wish to see America fail.”

“For that reason and my firmly held belief that we should never come to the brink of a government shutdown over politics, I have asked Majority Leader Schumer to remove the permitting language from the Continuing Resolution we will vote on this evening,” Manchin continued.

While his bill will not be included in the continuing resolution to fund the government through December 16, Manchin expressed optimism that the bill could still pass later. “Over the last several weeks there has been broad consensus on the urgent need to address our nation’s flawed permitting system,” he said. “I stand ready to work with my colleagues to move forward on this critical legislation to meet the challenges of delivering affordable reliable energy Americans desperately need.”

“We should never depend on other countries to supply the energy we need when we can produce it here at home,” he added. “Accelerating the construction of energy infrastructure is critical to delivering that energy to the American people and our allies around the world. Inaction is not a strategy for energy independence and security.”

In a floor speech shortly before the bill was brought up, Schumer put the blame on Republicans for scuttling the reform package. “Senate Republicans have made clear they will block legislation to fund the government if it includes bipartisan permitting reform, because they’ve chosen to obstruct instead of work in a bipartisan way to achieve something they’ve long claimed they want to do,” Schumer said, via The Hill.

“Because American families should not be subjected to a Republican-manufactured government shutdown, Sen. Manchin has requested, and I have agreed, to move forward and pass the recently filed continuing resolution legislation without the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022,” he said.

Despite Schumer’s intentional scapegoating of Republicans, opposition to permitting reforms was bipartisan. Republicans expressed skepticism about the bill earlier this month, wary that Manchin might have to make concessions to appease progressive Democrats. Instead, Republicans proposed their own alternative legislation that aligned with their priorites.

But at the same time, more than 70 House Democrats wrote a letter to Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, denouncing Manchin’s proposal and demanding it be excluded from the funding bill. Finally last week, a contingent of progressive Democrats in the Senate asked Schumer not to include the permitting reforms in the funding bill.

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