Frustration with Sen. Joe Manchin among Democrats and Republicans alike could sink efforts to avoid a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday after the West Virginia Democrat’s bid to ease permitting for energy projects was included in stopgap spending legislation unveiled early Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised he would ​include Manchin’s proposal in the short-term bill as a reward for his support in passing President Biden’s $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act last month.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threw a wrench in the works Monday when he encouraged members of his caucus to vote against Manchin’s amendment and​ ​instead back a competing proposal introduced by the Senate’s other West Virginian, Republican Shelley Moore Capito.

McConnell said last week that Manchin’s bill was “reform in name only” and needled the Democrat for trading his vote on Biden​’s​ bill in exchange for a promise from Schumer.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, after a Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. His mouth is open and he is photographed in front of two American flags.
Sen. Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans have come out against the plan

“If our colleagues across the aisle want real permitting reform, Sen. Capito’s fantastic bill only needs Sen. Manchin plus nine more Democrats to clear this chamber,” McConnell said. “Otherwise, it would appear the senior senator from West Virginia traded his vote on a massive liberal boondoggle in exchange for nothing.”

Manchin said Monday that he was surprised at the opposition mounted by McConnell and his fellow Republicans.

​”I never did think I’d have [the support of] Bernie [Sanders] and some of the extreme far left​,” he said in an interview with Fox News. “​What I didn’t expect is that Mitch McConnell and my Republican friends would be siding up to Bernie and trying to get the same outcome by not passing permitting reform.”

​Sanders (I-Vt.) came out early against Manchin’s pitch, calling it a “huge giveaway to the fossil fuel industry.” 

Bernie Sanders posing for fans outside of NBC Studios
Sen. Bernie ​Sanders came out early against Manchin’s pitch, calling it a “huge giveaway to the fossil fuel industry.”
Rick Davis /

Other Democrats also expressed displeasure with Schumer for stapling Manchin’s proposal to the must-pass measure.

“I am disappointed that unrelated permitting reform was attached to this bill. This is a controversial matter that should be debated on its own merits,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “However, with four days left in the fiscal year, we cannot risk a government shutdown; we must work to advance this bill.”

“We have made significant progress toward a Continuing Resolution that is as clean as possible,” said Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the appropriations panel. “But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it.”

Manchin has little time to rally support for his amendment, with Schumer expected to bring the spending measure to the floor for a test vote Tuesday evening. The bill needs 60 votes in the 50-50 chamber to clear the initial hurdle.

If the Senate does pass the bill, it will move to the House, where Democrats have also expressed dismay at the inclusion of Manchin’s proposal.

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin is surprised he is facing opposition from Republicans
Rod Lamkey – CNP / MEGA

“I am also extremely disappointed that controversial permitting reform is attached and not being considered separately,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement. “Despite these shortcomings, the continuing resolution still provides resources critical to our communities and national security. And with just four days before the end of the fiscal year, it keeps the government open. I urge my colleagues in both chambers to act quickly to pass this legislation.”

​​Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said his proposal would speed up the permitting process for projects including the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry natural gas through West Virginia to Virginia.​

Along with keeping the government funded through Dec. 16, the bill ​provides about $12.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine, $1 billion in assistance to low-income families for heating this winter, $20 million to address water quality issues in Jackson, Miss., and billions in additional disaster aid. 

With Post wires 

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