Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is granting Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) another stab at getting his effort to speed up approvals for the country’s energy projects into a defense spending bill.
Schumer earlier this year promised Manchin that he’d support his energy approval efforts, known as permitting reform, in exchange for Manchin’s vote on the Democrats’ major climate, tax and health care bill.
“Yes, we’re going to vote on that amendment. As you know, Republicans blocked it in the House even though permitting reform is something that they’ve always supported in the past, so I hope they’ll help us and support it,” Schumer told reporters on Tuesday.
Manchin announced that he’d put forward the policies, which include faster timelines for environmental reviews, giving the federal government authority to direct electric transmission lines and approving a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia, as an amendment to this year’s annual defense spending bill after it was not included in the bill’s text.
The spending bill already passed the House without Manchin’s amendment and will need to get reapproved if the amendment ultimately ends up attached to it.
The latest effort also comes after an unsuccessful attempt to get the policies into a stopgap funding measure earlier this year. It failed amid opposition from both progressive Democrats and Republicans.
It’s not clear whether the latest amendment push will be able to garner the necessary support. Six Democratic senators said in a letter last week that they opposed putting the energy policies into the defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Previously, a handful of other Senate Democrats and a sizable contingent of House Democrats also expressed opposition on environmental grounds despite support from Schumer and other Democrats who argue that a faster process is also needed to build out carbon-free energy sources.
Though Manchin made some changes aimed at getting Republicans on board, the push also faces headwinds there, with some Republicans saying the changes don’t go far enough.
Republicans have also expressed hostility to helping Manchin after he supported the Democrats’ climate and tax bill. And the party may be hesitant to hand a legislative win to Manchin, who faces a tough reelection bid in 2024.
Asked how many votes the amendment would need to get onto the bill, a spokesperson for Schumer’s office said via email “to advance, the bill would need 60 votes.”
Manchin, meanwhile, pushed his colleagues to support the amendment in a written statement.
“I cannot go home and explain to West Virginians why the Senate would fail to support creating new energy jobs, producing more energy, and enhancing American energy security quickly. I struggle to understand how any of my colleagues could in good conscious consider voting against bipartisan, comprehensive energy permitting reform that benefits all types of energy,” the West Virginia Democrat said.
“I urge each of my colleagues to vote to ensure that this permitting reform legislation our country desperately needs is included in NDAA,” he added.
– Updated 5:29 p.m.