‘Sordid Backroom Deal’: Progressives Entangle Once Again With Manchin

“This is a tale of two houses,” the representative said. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), criticizing Schumer and Manchin’s agreement to take on permit reform in exchange for their vote on the party-line bill as a “shoddy deal.”

It’s all shaping up to be the Democrats’ last big infighting before the midterms, a rare remaining sore point for a party that is finally united on much and finally everything from abortion to the economy to intermarriage. same sex. And after almost an entire Congress defined by the Senate 50-50, the House is assuming a leading role: the Senator. bernie sanders (I-Vt.) promises to vote against the permits bill if it is tied to government funding, but House progressives are offering the main intraparty resistance to Manchin’s plan.

The Senate plans to pass a short-term funding bill with permitting reform attached just before the Sept. 30 deadline, challenging Grijalva and his allies to risk a shutdown fight over the issue, according to multiple Democrats. familiar with the plan. In an interview Monday, Manchin did not seem concerned about the fate of his proposal: “I think common sense will have to kick in sooner or later.”

The text of Manchin’s permit bill is not yet public, but senior Democrats in both chambers are downplaying the chances of disaster. Several lawmakers and advisers said they believe there is a path to an amended deal that can win over Grijalva and other House Democrats while keeping Manchin on board.

A key motivator: Many clean energy advocates say a permitting deal, as Manchin’s initial framework envisions, would benefit renewable projects, including wind and solar generation, even if it would also speed up some fossil fuel pipelines, like the crippled Mountain Valley natural gas line that originates in the senator’s home state.

Allowing the reform, as Manchin put it, means “we can have the energy security that our country needs now.” Referring to the new renewable energy transmission lines, he added: “And as we move towards the transition [to clean energy], you can do it with the necessary infrastructure. … I would like to think that people are being practical and not political.”

The West Virginia centrist said he understands if House Democrats are still furious about the reduction he demanded in his original national agenda from the party line. Yet liberals across Capitol Hill swear their opposition to his plan isn’t payback for two years of Manchin-induced headaches, since his reshuffle of the $1 trillion-plus Build Back Better bill. smallest law Inflation Reduction Lawto the House’s forced acceptance of last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, derided by some on the left as essentially a Republican effort.

Instead, House Democrats say it’s about what they see as an environmentally dangerous permits deal that undermines some of the climate provisions they won in the new law this summer.

Still, some Democrats admit they are relishing the opportunity to wield some influence over West Virginia.

“About time,” the retired rep joked. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who joined about 70 Democrats in urging party leaders to keep Manchin’s bill separate from government funding.

“It’s a pretty big vote and we shouldn’t play around with it to make it undefeatable,” Yarmuth said, adding that he and other House Democrats never signed. “That’s totally the Schumer deal. I am not bound by the Schumer agreement.”

There is another big incentive to limit the blast radius of the permit fight. Democrats are entering the run-up to the midterms with a singular focus on avoiding self-inflicted political wounds, including the possibility of a shutdown. Senator chris murphy (D-Conn.) said he needs to see the text of the permit before he can say whether he will support it, but urged his party to be strategic in picking fights that could jeopardize a patch of government funding.

“It could be that people are looking for leverage,” Murphy said of the Democrats’ positioning. “Or it could be that House members are still mad at Joe Manchin.”

If the permitting push is added to the Senate funding bill this month, the House Majority Leader Hoyer Walls (D-Md.) hinted at the steep rise — and possible education campaign — that skeptical Democrats in his chamber might need to sign off on.

“There’s no question it’s controversial,” Hoyer told Bloomberg TV of Manchin’s permitting plan on Monday. “And we will have to convince our members that the language that is brought in does not undermine our environment.”

Manchin said Schumer and Pelosi remain steadfast in their commitments to him: “I believe exactly what they’ve told me… they see exactly what this country needs and why we need to make sure we’re the world’s superpower. He said he was encouraged by the release Monday of a competing permit reform bill by dozens of Senate Republicans as a show of bipartisan support for his ideas.

The road to an eventual permitting law still looks bumpy, with some of the country’s most vocal environmental groups pushing ahead in their own missives opposing what they called a “fossil fuel wish list” that would perpetrate “environmental racism.” , among other effects. Some climate activist groups have already staged protests.

In a recent interview, Grijalva did not say whether he and other progressives were “willing to sink the whole ship” and spark a showdown over government funding. But he said any Manchin-led permitting bill would face “a lot of resistance” without significant changes.

And while Democrats applauded his summer’s huge climate gains on Manchin’s party-line bill, many progressives feel they owe him nothing on the separate issue of energy permits. Huffman said that while some of the bill could end up being “good policy,” he stressed that it should be considered “in the light of day, not in a back room with Joe Manchin.”

Beyond Sanders, progressives on the Senate side are staying on the sidelines for now, calling for a pragmatic approach. Senator Brian Shatz (D-Hawaii), who has already backed the permit deal, said disagreements within the Democratic coalition are natural, but “like it or not, to build the kind of clean energy we want, we’re going to have to change some of the federal laws.”

Josh Siegel contributed to this report.

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