The so-called “side agreement” cut earlier this summer with Sen. Joe Manchin D-W.Va., on expediting pipeline permits could cause a major problem with prepping an interim spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Senate Democrats carved a pact with Manchin on permits in exchange for his support of the climate, health and tax bill.
In early August, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he wouldn’t support an interim spending bill to avoid a shutdown if the sidecar deal for Manchin was included.
“I will not vote for a Continuing Resolution that is part of a political payback scheme,” Graham warned in August. “You need to think long and hard about what you’re doing.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said yesterday the permitting plan would be in the Band-Aid spending bill.
“Our intention is to add it to the CR. Absolutely,” said Schumer.
Manchin himself said on Fox News’ “Special Report” Wednesday that the so-called side deal was struck in order to help energy production and reduce the nation’s energy insecurity.
“Everyone thinks is a side deal. There’s no side, there was only one we looked at, we need energy, we need energy security. And if you’re going to have energy insecurity, if that permitting reform, you can’t get it down, so it’s all part of the same,” Manchin said.
But everyone is hearing about this problem in stereo on Capitol Hill – both from the right and now, the left.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is expressing reservations about keeping the permitting plan in the spending package.
“I rise this morning to express my strong opposition to the so-called ‘side-deal’ that the fossil fuel industry is pushing to make it easier for them to pollute the environment and destroy the planet,” said Sanders in a lengthy floor speech. “Today, I am urging all of my colleagues to stand with the 650 organizations and 59 Members of Congress and reject this dirty side deal.”
The Senate needs 60 yeas to clear a filibuster on any spending package. It could spell trouble if there is attrition on both sides of the aisle as the Senate tries to claw its way to 60 yeas.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said yesterday that he wants the interim spending bill to be “as clean as possible.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, echoed McConnell in an interview with Fox on Thursday.
“The money (is to) just fund the government. Nothing else,” said Shelby.
But he conceded it was hard to keep such spending bills “clean.”
“There will always be some things thrown in there. But the more you put on the truck, the harder it is to move,” said Shelby.
He added that the permitting plan “needs to be evaluated.”
Government funding expires at 11:59:59 p.m. on Sept. 30.