(Washington Times) House Democrats are warning Sen. Joe Manchin III that they won’t honor the deal he made with party leaders to secure his vote on President Biden’s massive spending and tax law.
They plan to break the promises Mr. Biden and Congress’ Democratic leaders made to Mr. Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat, to cut bureaucratic red tape to speed up the permitting process for energy projects of all forms. That promise secured the crucial support from Mr. Manchin needed to pass a $773 billion law for climate change, health care and tax hikes.
Now that Mr. Manchin held up his end of the deal, progressive Democrats in the House say they owe him nothing because they were shut out of the deal-making process, and streamlining energy projects would undercut their newly enacted climate spending law.
“We sure as hell don’t owe Joe Manchin anything now,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat, told the left-leaning news outlet The American Prospect.
Rep. Jared Huffman, California Democrat and leading climate advocate, told Politico he refuses to be “steamrolled into a bunch of fossil fuel giveaways just because Manchin cut a deal in a closed room with Chuck Schumer.”
“Democrats don’t owe anybody anything in return for passing the bill,” House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, wrote in a Newsweek op-ed.
When asked for comment, Mr. Manchin’s office pointed to a joint statement from last month in which he and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said they were committed to getting permitting reform done by the end of September.
In exchange for providing the pivotal vote to pass the Democrats’ climate spending law, which included $370 billion in green initiatives, Mr. Manchin also secured a bevy of energy plums that the fossil fuel industry and Republicans have long wanted.
The Biden administration was supposed to reverse course to offer more oil and natural gas lease sales on federal land and water, and boost domestic energy production of all forms.
The separate permitting deal includes finishing the $6.6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline in West Virginia, time limits for permit reviews, a statute of limitations for court challenges and energy projects that the administration will fast-track. No official bill text has been released.
Although permit reform would benefit clean energy, Democrats and environmentalists worry it would promote oil and natural gas for decades to come, undermining their efforts to slash emissions.