Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia just did a pretty drastic about-face on Tuesday, and it will likely help the Senate avoid a Friday night shut down.
His move enabled the funding bill to earn the 60 votes necessary to clear the way for a vote. This should keep the government running through Dec. 16.
No one thought it would be this easy. For the last several weeks, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has been walking a tightrope balancing his promise to Manchin to include his permitting change proposal before the fiscal year ends on September 30.
There was a growing coalition of members on both sides of the aisle that were saying they would block any short-term funding bill that included Manchin’s propositions.
Schumer had promised Manchin they would be included when he wanted the West Virginia senator’s vote on the summer’s “Inflation Reduction Act.”
On Monday of this week, Manchin was holding on to the promise from Schumer. He worked all weekend trying to bolster support for his agenda, believing there was still a pathway to 60 votes for him. But eventually, he just relented.
On Tuesday, Manchin released a statement just half an hour before the Senate was set to vote down a short-term funding bill that included Manchin’s changes. It said that he had requested Schumer remove his language from the bill.
“It is unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk. The last several months, we have seen firsthand the destruction that is possible as Vladimir Putin continues to weaponize energy. A failed vote on something as critical as comprehensive permitting reform only serves to embolden leaders like Putin who wish to see America fail,” Manchin said in a statement.
He went on to say that he had a firmly held belief that the Senate should never come to the brink of shutting down the government over politics. He said that he asked the Majority Leader to remove the permitting language from the Continuing Resolution that would be voted on that evening.
Schumer then told the floor of the Senate that he would advance the short-term funding bill without the Manchin proposal.
“Senate Republicans have made clear they will block legislation to fund the government if it includes bipartisan permitting reform, because they’ve chosen to obstruct instead of work in a bipartisan way to achieve something they’ve long claimed they want to do,” Schumer said.
Many GOP Pushing Back Against Manchin Spending Bill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky actively worked against it. Many in the GOP saw this vote as an opportunity to push back on Manchin for what they believe was a betrayal because he decided to side with Democrats on the climate and health bill.
From the floor, McConnell called the inclusion of Manchin’s proposal a “phony fig leaf.”
“The poison pill is a phony attempt to address an important topic of permitting reform. It is much too difficult to build things in America an unleash American energy. Liberal regulations are the problem,” McConnell said.
Republicans were not alone in opposing this funding bill. Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders had vowed to vote against it too. He expressed concerns about the adverse environmental impact that the permitting projects might have.
Sanders challenged his colleagues to make an environmentally conscious choice. He wants Congress to tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits and not as important as the future of the planet.
Once the Senate passes the changed funding bill, it will have to pass the House before September 30.