Republican opposition to Manchin energy deal solidifies

Many Republicans feel the reform does not go far enough and does little more than advance a project in Manchin's home state.

Updated: September 22, 2022 - 4:39pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Republican opposition is solidifying against an energy permitting reform plan from West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

"I can't see how it's going to pass," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said of the measure, according to The Hill. "I think it does as much harm as good, if it does any good at all," said North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer. "If you own a pipeline in West Virginia, it's really great. Other than that, I don't see a lot of value to it."

While fellow West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R, has backed the plan, it is currently "not even close" to securing enough votes to clear a 60-vote filibuster, according to Kramer.

Sens. Steven Daines, R-Mont., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., have all expressed opposition to the plan, with many more Republicans still reviewing it. Moreover, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, Va., has announced his opposition, as has Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

In late July, Manchin announced that he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had reached a deal in which the West Virginia Democrat would lend his support to the $740 billion spending package replete with party agenda items known as the "Inflation Reduction Act" in exchange for a separate bill to streamline the approval of certain energy projects.

Manchin specifically sought to restrict local review of energy projects so as to expedite their approval. This would remove a major obstacle to the approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a critical energy project planned to run through West Virginia.

The West Virginia moderate kept his word, but opposition from Democrats in both chambers and Senate Republicans present a significant barrier to Schumer's ability to follow through on his end. More than 70 House Democrats have signed onto a letter voicing opposition to the plan, asserting that they were never party to Schumer's deal and are thus not bound to it. 

Schumer has sought to ram through the permitting reform via a continuing budget resolution, but even potential supporters of the plan have cast aspersions on that approach.

Many Republicans feel the reform does not go far enough and does little more than advance a project in Manchin's home state.

"The decisions I've got to make is, on balance, is some permitting reform better than no permitting reform?" Louisiana GOP Sen. Kennedy said, per The Hill. "I'm trying to understand whether Sen. Manchin's proposal really is permitting reform." Kennedy has yet to announce his final decision on the reform.

Manchin has long been adamant that Republican support for permitting reform would carry the measure forward. The recent string of GOP declarations against his plan, however, has caused him to chastise his colleagues across the isle for impeding the effort, minimizing opposition from lawmakers within his own party as an expected development.

"I know there's part of my Democrats, the caucus, and the far-left liberals that Bernie [Sanders] is so proud of, were never going to be for this," he said. "I knew that. This is bipartisan, it doesn't pass without the Republicans."

Manchin's comments, however, have tended to cast the debate over the continuing resolution as strictly one about his permitting reform plan. The stopgap funding measure, however, addresses short-term funding for the entire government and presents would-be supporters of Manchin's plan with a range of other considerations.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, for instance, has encouraged Republicans to oppose the spending package since it does not allocate funding for enhanced border security measures.

"If Biden & Democrats don't use this government funding bill to address the border crisis immediately, I'm voting NO on this bill and I urge my colleagues to do the same," he said earlier this week, per The Hill.

Just the News Spotlight