GOP, progressives fight Manchin-Schumer energy deal, government funding bill in limbo

Vowing to pass a comprehensive health care and energy bill this summer, Manchin won assurances from top Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to push through a plan that would speed up the permitting and environmental review process for energy projects. pipeline that would cross his home state of West Virginia. Schumer has vowed to sign the White House-backed deal into law to keep government agencies in place beyond Sept. 30.

But an unlikely alliance is emerging with progressives worried about the deal’s environmental impact and Senate Republicans still livid that Manchin voted to ensure the passage of the health care and energy bills into law. Now the GOP is in no mood to hand Manchin a victory ahead of what is sure to be a difficult 2024 re-election bid, criticizing the proposed deal as poor.

“There are going to be people who are concerned about loading the Manchin provision into the CR as part of what many of our people believe is a backroom deal that was cut with the Democrats a long time ago,” said Sen. John John of South Dakota. Thune, No. 2 Senate Republican, referring to the continuing resolution, or CR, to fund federal agencies.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the GOP member of the Appropriations Committee, called the Manchin-Schumer deal “crude politics” and stopped short of saying he would oppose the stopgap measure if the deal goes through.

“It bothers a lot of people on the left because it goes against what they think about the environment,” Shelby said. “And on the right, [people believe] it is a crude political agreement. What will happen? I do not know”.

Growing opposition has cast doubt on whether the stopgap measure has the votes to pass both chambers by the end of the month, with some in Schumer’s caucus telling leadership that authorizing changes should be worked out of the spending bill or oppose the effort altogether.

But Schumer vowed Tuesday to include the plan in a continuing resolution.

“I’m going to add it to the CR and it will pass,” Schumer said clearly, the authorization measure because Democrats had already passed the climate and health care bills.

Manchin played down the GOP threats.

“It’s about the country: the security we need and the energy security,” Manchin told CNN when asked about the Republican comments. “I think they’ll rise above it. I really do.”

The Senate can try to pass the bill first, as long as all 10 GOP senators support the measure. A Senate Democratic aide said the hope is that House Democrats will eventually back the bill if the Senate passes it the first time — given the closer deadline to avoid a shutdown — and that House Democrats have not yet said explicitly. will not vote for the bill if the plan is included.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat and chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, told CNN on Tuesday that “I personally do not support” adding the authorization plan to the funding bill.

But he added, “We’re certainly not shutting down the government.”

Controversial pipe

The Manchin-Schumer deal also includes incentives for one of Manchin’s pet projects: the Mountain Valley pipeline, a long-delayed natural gas pipeline that would cross West Virginia and Virginia if completed.

The pipeline has been successfully challenged in court over the years; the consent agreement would essentially speed it up. The agreement includes language requiring them to take all necessary actions to allow construction and operation of the pipeline and giving the D.C. Circuit jurisdiction over future litigation.

That has raised eyebrows among Democrats, including Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who said he has expressed concerns to Manchin about the pipeline’s potential effects on his state. Kaine told CNN he also wants to tackle authorization reform outside of the spending bill.

Other Democrats have expressed similar sentiments, particularly in the House, where more than 75 have signed a letter to the House leader opposing attachment to the stopgap measure, expressing frustration with both the content of the deal and the fact. they have had very little contribution to it.

“We don’t like it. We didn’t agree,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state told CNN on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden hands the pen he used to sign Democrats' landmark climate change and health care bill to Manchin as Schumer sees it.

Meanwhile, most Senate Republicans support a separate authorization bill crafted by Manchin’s West Virginia colleague, Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Several Republicans also told CNN they believe the authorizations should not be included in the approved spending bill.

Sen. John Barrasso, the Republican GOP leadership member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Tuesday objected to the deal Manchin, the panel’s chairman, cut with Schumer.

“Joe Manchin is trying to hide behind a fig tree of a deal he made with Chuck Schumer,” the Wyoming Republican said Tuesday.

“I would say to my friend Joe Manchin, the chairman of the Energy Committee, what they’re celebrating in the White House today is the damage you’ve done by passing this reckless bill. You voted for it, and there’s a find us.”

A new political landscape

House progressives are angry about both the substance of Manchin and Schumer’s deal and how it came together.

While the text of the bill is still being drafted, the original agreement contained several provisions to streamline environmental permitting for large energy projects, including a maximum of two years of environmental assessments through the National Environmental Policy Act.

Although Manxin has had the greatest strength in the negotiations of the past Congress, the tables have turned. House Democrats already got the climate and health care bills they wanted in the Inflation Reduction Act, and many are feeling little pressure to meet Manchin’s new demands without putting up a fight.

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“It’s the worst process imaginable, no process at all,” California Democratic Representative Jared Huffman told CNN. Huffman said he would be open to a close deal to speed up permitting for clean energy projects, but he’s skeptical that it could advance fossil fuel projects or overturn environmental permitting laws.

“There is [Manchin’s] Complaining that environmental law is getting in the way of some of his favorite pipeline and fossil fuel projects, there’s a reason,” Huffman said. “I think we’re trying to speak very clearly for a clean CR. It’s hard to accept a clean CR for everyone but Joe Manchin.”

Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped short of calling on House progressives to vote against the spending freeze bill if the reform authorization is attached.

“I’m glad to see that dozens understand the world is on fire,” Sanders, a Vermont independent, told CNN. “I hope that one way or another this provision will be removed.”

Jayapal said House progressives are open to discussing other ways to pass permit reform, as long as it’s written. He attached a proposal to the annual defense policy bill later in the year.

“It would give members of the House a chance to fight for what is the right reform here,” Jayapal said.