Sen. Joe Manchin III is casting himself as the victim of “revenge politics” by Capitol Hill colleagues who are preparing to tank his energy deal.
Mr. Manchin called out the “extreme liberal left” and Republicans who are ready to kill his plan to overhaul the federal permits for pipelines and other energy projects — even if exacting revenge against him also risks a government shutdown.
“I’ve never seen stranger bedfellows than [Sen.] Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberal left siding up with the Republican leadership,” he told reporters at the Capitol. “It’s like revenge politics, and basically revenge towards one person: me.”
The conservative West Virginia Democrat will unveil his legislation Wednesday to streamline energy projects. The legislation is expected to be attached to a stopgap funding bill to prevent a shutdown at the end of the month.
Mr. Manchin is heading into a political battle where he will likely fail. Neither Republicans nor fellow Democrats are eager to give him a victory.
He got into this predicament by making a deal with Democratic leaders to provide the crucial vote needed to pass President Biden’s tax and climate bill in exchange for adding his overhaul of energy permits to the must-pass spending bill. House Democrats balked and vowed to oppose the spending bill unless his measure gets nixed.
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Mr. Manchin‘s Democratic foes argued that easing roadblocks to energy permits would undermine any gains they’ve made against climate change.
House Democratic leaders have repeatedly dodged the question of whether they will strip his permitting reform from stopgap funding, despite a previous deal with Democratic leadership and the White House to vote on his legislation in exchange for his crucial support to pass their tax and climate spending law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said last week that they “never agreed on how it would be brought up” and she will “wait and see” what the Senate does.
More than 70 House Democrats are threatening a shutdown over their opposition that it would undercut the clean energy provisions in their climate law and harm the environment by slashing red tape for fossil fuel production. They want a standalone vote on his impending proposal so that it is easier to bat down.
Mr. Manchin said Mrs. Pelosi will do “what she has to do.”
The bill’s passage in the Senate, meanwhile, appears even murkier.
It will need 60 votes to survive, a feat that is unlikely to be accomplished in the 50-50 split chamber. Senate Republicans still feel betrayed by Mr. Manchin for his support of the climate law, prompting fellow West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Republican, to unveil a dueling energy proposal.
“Now [Republicans are] going to say, ‘I’m so sorry, it’s just not perfect enough and it has Joe Manchin‘s name on it,’” Mr. Manchin said. “How do you go home — I couldn’t go home and explain that.”
“Whoever votes against it,” he continued, “is shutting the government down.”