Senate Republicans unveiled a proposal Monday to slash red tape for energy projects as Democrats struggle with infighting over a plan of their own and how to prevent the federal government from shuttering at the end of the month.
As part of securing Sen. Joe Manchin III’s support for last month’s tax and climate spending law, Democratic leaders promised the West Virginia Democrat they would tack on energy permitting reform to a stopgap funding measure.
Republicans have now countered the forthcoming legislation with a plan of their own after they say Democrats have refused to include them in the talks.
“Since our calls for action and offers to see legislative text from the permitting ‘deal’ remain unheeded, Republicans are introducing this legislation today to deliver solutions to the roadblocks, delays and postponements of key infrastructure projects across the country,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia Republican and ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The comprehensive bill would go further to streamline energy projects than what Democrats have previously proposed, and would reinstate Trump-era rollbacks to environmental regulations, according to a summary. But Ms. Capito’s legislation, backed by 38 other Senate Republicans including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, includes several overlapping areas, such as fast-tracking the $6.6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline in West Virginia.
Still, Democrats are facing strong headwinds within their party to double-cross Mr. Manchin. While permit reform would help speed along clean energy projects, it would also aid fossil fuel production, a major point of opposition by congressional climate hawks and environmentalists.
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A faction of 76 House progressives, led by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, have warned leadership they are prepared to vote against keeping the government open if the energy permit reform is tied to stopgap funding, known as a continuing resolution or CR, that must be approved by month’s end.
“I encourage leadership to listen to its caucus and keep us out of a shutdown standoff that nobody wants. Give us a clean CR and let these dirty permitting provisions stand up to congressional scrutiny on their own,” Mr. Grijalva said. “Now is not the time to roll the dice on a government shutdown.”
Democratic leaders have not buckled to the intra-party pressure. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Monday that negotiations are still underway to fund the federal government through mid-December, and urged Republicans to help them pass it, which will require at least 60 votes.