All eyes on Manchin's future as a Democrat after Sinema's departure from the party

Democratic leaders' promise to Manchin to deliver on permitting reform and a pipeline project in exchange for his Inflation Reduction Act support hasn't materialized.

Published: December 9, 2022 5:58pm

Updated: December 9, 2022 11:20pm

All eyes are on West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's future after Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's departure from the Democratic Party.

Sinema revealed on Friday that she has registered as an independent.

"Like a lot of Arizonans, I have never fit perfectly in either national party," she said. "Becoming an independent won't change my work in the Senate; my service to Arizona remains the same."

President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised Manchin to deliver on permitting reform and a pipeline project in exchange for his vote in favor of the $740 Inflation Reduction Act in August.

Manchin had argued that fast-tracking the federal permitting process for energy projects would be a win for the American public, especially given the pain that Americans have been facing at the pump.

In September, Manchin was unable to attach permitting reform and the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Appalachia to the appropriations bill that was ultimately passed.

At the time, Republicans were upset that Manchin ultimately compromised with the Democrats and supported Biden's IRA through the budget reconciliation process with only Democratic votes. Progressive Democratic lawmakers opposed Manchin's permitting reform language, citing climate change concerns. 

An effort this week to include permitting reform in the National Defense Authorization Act failed due to pressure on Democratic congressional leaders from progressive Democratic lawmakers, environmental groups and climate activists.

Manchin's office did not return a request for comment on Friday about Sinema leaving the Democratic Party.

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