- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2022

Sen. Joe Manchin III continues to name-check Democratic colleague Sen. Bernard Sanders as part of his quest to convince enough skeptics to support his energy permitting legislation ahead of a spending deadline this week.

Through remarks to reporters and a recent op-ed, Mr. Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat, has consistently name-dropped Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, in a bid to paint those who oppose his plan to fast-track green energy and fossil fuel projects as radicals jeopardizing energy security.

“Contrary to the radical agenda of Sen. Bernie Sanders and his allies, who seem oblivious to the reality of the global and domestic energy challenges we face, the common-sense permitting reforms… will help cut costs and accelerate the building of the critical energy infrastructure we need,” Mr. Manchin wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday.

The tactic by Mr. Manchin comes amid an impasse over his energy policy, with just four legislative days left to avoid a possible government shutdown that would occur at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. 

Mr. Manchin’s bill, which will be attached to must-pass stopgap funding to keep the government open past Friday, will face its first test Tuesday during a procedural vote that will require 60 votes. At least $12 billion for Ukraine is expected to be included in the stopgap measure to fund the government through mid-December, but it’s unclear whether the Biden administration’s request for more money for COVID-19, monkeypox and natural disasters will also be included. The spending details have yet to be released.

But intense opposition from both sides is threatening to derail Mr. Manchin‘s energy policy.

SEE ALSO: Manchin suggests lawmakers will face regret if they don’t back his energy permitting proposal

The far left argues that fast-tracking energy projects would undercut renewables, while Republicans don’t want to help the Democrat eke out another victory in the wake of Mr. Manchin‘s crucial vote that allowed Democrats to pass their tax-and-climate spending law. In exchange for Mr. Manchin‘s support of the climate law, the White House and Democratic congressional leaders vowed to push for his energy permitting reform.

Prior to his op-ed, Mr. Manchin told reporters he’s “never seen stranger bedfellows than Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberal left siding up with Republican leadership” to oppose such a policy, which would boost fossil fuel and green energy projects.

Mr. Sanders responded last week in a letter to Senate colleagues urging them to reject the “disastrous side deal.”

Despite the fierce bipartisan opposition, Mr. Manchin remains confident he will succeed in convincing more than 10 Senate Republicans to buoy his proposal.  

The lone GOP senator thus far to support publicly Mr. Manchin’s proposal is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

If Tuesday’s vote falls short of the required 60 votes, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is expected to strip out Mr. Manchin‘s proposal in order to pass the stopgap spending measure and avoid a shutdown.

“When looked at objectively, this legislation and the underlying reforms should be a unifying moment for both parties,” Mr. Manchin wrote in his op-ed. “Instead, extreme politics are blinding some to the realities of what we must do to keep our energy future secure for generations to come. What else could possibly explain why any Republican would even consider supporting the same position as Sen. Sanders when it comes to energy?”

Just days earlier, the WSJ editorial board wrote in an op-ed of its own that Mr. Manchin‘s legislation was a “bust” because his “take-it-or-leave-it proposal includes some marginal improvements that will benefit renewables but it creates new regulatory risks for fossil fuels.”

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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