Senate Republicans are lining up against the permitting reform bill that centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) unveiled Wednesday evening, shortly before it is to be added to a must-pass government funding bill scheduled for the floor next week.
As a result, key Republicans say a stopgap funding bill with Manchin’s language reforming the permitting process for energy projects will not have enough support to pass.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised to attach Manchin’s permitting bill to a short-term government funding measure in exchange for Manchin’s vote last month for the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping climate and tax reform bill that had been a top priority for President Biden.
But now it looks like Manchin’s bill is doomed because of growing opposition from Republicans, who say it doesn’t go far enough.
Schumer would have to agree to strengthen Manchin’s bill to pick up more Republican votes.
“I can’t see how it’s going to pass,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to the GOP leadership.
Asked if Manchin’s bill could get enough Republican votes to overcome an expected filibuster and pass the Senate, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) replied: “Not even close.”
“I think it does as much harm as good, if it does any good at all,” Cramer said. “If you own a pipeline in West Virginia, it’s really great. Other than that, I don’t see a lot of value to it.”
Manchin’s home-state colleague Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) announced Thursday morning that she supports his permitting reform bill, but most Republicans are coming out against the proposal.
GOP senators say Capito is embracing Manchin’s proposal because it would approve the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that would span more than 300 miles across West Virginia.
But Senate Republicans who don’t benefit from that project are much more skeptical.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he’s a “no” vote, pointing out the bill does little for his home state.
“I’d like more. I get nothing in South Carolina. I’ll be a ‘no,’” he said.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Manchin chairs, said he has serious concerns about the centrist Democrat’s proposal.
“I have a lot of concerns with it. Clearly it doesn’t do the sort of things that we need and I think in certain areas it makes it worse,” Barrasso said.
“With the [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] overseeing electricity transmission lines, with giving the fed the right to set prices so you have red states like Wyoming having to subsidize blue state energy like California, and I just can’t support that,” he added.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said he will vote against Manchin’s bill because its reforms don’t cover forestry.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was initially open to Manchin’s bill but then came out against it after Republicans discussed it in detail at lunch.
“I’m not supportive of what’s come out,” he said.
Other Republicans such as Sens. John Kennedy (La.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Mitt Romney (Utah) are still reviewing the bill.
“The decisions I’ve got to make is, on balance, is some permitting reform better than no permitting reform?” Kennedy said. “I’m trying to understand whether Sen. Manchin’s proposal really is permitting reform.”
Manchin’s bill also faces opposition from his own caucus.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is urging his Democratic colleagues to vote against it, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced Wednesday that he would not support the bill because of the language approving the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would span 100 miles of his home state.