What to Know in Washington: Manchin Permit Deal Needs GOP Votes

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Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday he needs as many as 20 Senate Republicans to vote for his plan to streamline the federal approval for energy projects to counter Democratic defections — further casting doubt on the effort to tie his bill to a must-pass spending bill this month.

Manchin said he was hopeful Republican West Virginia colleague Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who introduced a GOP permitting reform bill that has 46 GOP co-sponsors earlier this week, would be able to convince 15 to 20 Republicans to vote for his bill, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said would be attached to must-pass government funding legislation.

“That’s the only way it’s going to happen,” Manchin told reporters. “She got 40-plus Republicans to join her. She’s just got to get 20 of them to follow her.”

Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg
Manchin speaks to President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Capito indicated in a statement that she may be unwilling to provide votes for the plan she hasn’t seen and didn’t negotiate.

“Now the onus is on me to provide support for something I had no hand in and still don’t know what it is?” Capito said. “You just can’t operate like that.”

The legislation, which has yet to be unveiled, could speed the permitting process for both fossil fuel and clean energy projects by putting two-year time limits on project reviews and limiting the power of states in Clean Water Act approvals, changes that could benefit the energy industry but are opposed by environmentalists.

The legislation could also benefit Equitrans Midstream’s stalled $6.6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline by changing the court venue which has tied up the embattled project.

Senate passage is far from certain. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said last week he’d vote against the stopgap government-funding bill if Democratic leaders added the permitting plan. Manchin told reporters Thursday he expected as many as four Democrats to join Sanders in opposing the bill. Read more from Ari Natter and Erik Wasson.

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To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com

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