The latest attempt by Senator Joe Manchin (Democrat of West Virginia) to get his energy accord with Majority Leader Charles Schumer (Democrat of New York) linked to must-pass legislation was unsuccessful in the Senate.
In a vote that ended 47-47, the Senate chamber rejected Senator Manchin’s amendment to the National Military Authorization Act, which would have added permitting reform language to the bill that would have funded the defense department. To move forward with the measure, sixty votes were required.
In exchange for Manchin’s support of the critical piece of legislation proposed by the Democrats to address climate change, health care, and taxes, Schumer had guaranteed Manchin that he would introduce legislation to streamline the procedure for licensing new energy projects in the United States.
The results of the voting did not quite follow the lines drawn by the parties. Shelley Moore Capito (R) of West Virginia, Susan Collins (R) of Maine, Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska, Rob Portman (R) of Ohio, Mitt Romney (R) of Utah, Dan Sullivan (R) of Alaska, and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania, all of whom are Republicans, voted in favor of the bill.
Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Rafael Warnock (D-Georgia), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), along with liberal Independent Sen.
Although it was anticipated that Manchin’s permitting reform attempt would assist in the advancement of both fossil and renewable energy projects, it has created criticism from both sides of the aisle.
It was largely anticipated that the legislation would be defeated on Thursday; nonetheless, the vote offers Manchin a boost, as it is anticipated that he will continue to press for a compromise settlement in the coming year. In addition to this, it publicized the opposition of a significant number of Republicans to legislation that would be designed to support the energy business.
Following the vote, Manchin issued a statement criticizing his Republican colleagues for voting against the legislation. He claimed that those individuals prioritized politics over the interests of the country.
“[Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [(R-Ky.)] and the Republican leadership have put their political agenda before the needs of the American people,” he added. “This is the third time this has happened.” [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [(R-Ky.)]
“Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus voted against a bill that would have resulted in the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the rapid delivery of natural gas to the market. This would have resulted in lower costs for families to heat their homes and increased energy security and independence for the United States. He continued, “I feel that anyone who votes against allowing reform has failed to act in the best interest of our country by failing to act in a manner that is in the best interest of our country.”
In a message that was released on Thursday morning, hours before the vote, Vice President Joe Biden threw his support behind Manchin’s proposal and pitched it as a continuation of the Democratic party’s attempts to decrease expenses through the Inflation Reduction Act that was enacted this fall.
Biden stated, “I endorse Senator Manchin’s plan for permitting reform as a method to decrease energy bills for Americans, enhance U.S. energy security, and boost our ability to get energy projects completed and linked to the grid.”
Both provisions that would advance fossil fuel infrastructure and provisions that would limit community involvement in assessing the potentially harmful impacts of a future energy project have been objected to by progressive Democrats who hold the view that the latter would limit community involvement.
While Republicans have stated that the effort does not go far enough and that time restrictions for environmental evaluations need to be effectively enforced, Democrats have stated that the effort does go far enough. In addition, members of the Republican Party have voiced their opposition to certain sections, such as those that would give the federal government the authority to direct the construction of electric transmission lines.
The transmission buildout, on the other hand, has been mentioned by some Democratic proponents of the plan as a reason to support the bill. These Democrats argue that this infrastructure is required for a future that is powered by renewable energy.
After feeling insulted by Manchin’s support for the Democrats’ climate and tax bill, Republicans have long bemoaned the bureaucratic hurdles that can slow down energy project development. However, they have also shown antipathy toward collaborating with Manchin. They might also be reluctant to hand Manchin a victory so close to the time of his Senate contest in 2024.
In addition to general reforms designed to hasten the procedure for approving a variety of energy projects, Senator Manchin’s proposed legislation would also mandate the green light for the construction of a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia, where he was born and raised.
A proponent of Manchin’s initiative, Capito expressed her desire, before the vote, for Congress to reconsider the matter “after the first of the year.” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), who was against the legislation proposed by Senator Manchin, stated that he believes “we can get there with some compromises.”
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