I don’t know if things have cooled off behind the scenes, but it looks like U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., supports the permissions reform agenda that U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., negotiated with Democratic leaders in Congress.
Capito has paved his own way in authorizing the reform of oil, natural gas and other energy projects. First, with a failed amendment to the Inflation Reduction Act in an attempt to get US Democratic senators to support authorizing reform sooner rather than waiting for it to be linked to an ongoing resolution needed to fund the federal government after the end of September.
Second, as we reported, Capito introduced its own licensing reform bill just over two weeks ago. Manchin and others considered it a simple courier bill. He had almost all of the Republican US senators as co-sponsors, but in a 50/50 Senate you need 60 votes to overturn the filibuster and get the bill considered.
Capito’s bill arose because Manchin and Democratic leaders in Congress left Republicans in the dark and failed to consult with them. The wording of the bill had remained secret until last Thursday.
Manchin was pressuring Capito to give Republican votes for his proposal, but Capito had publicly expressed his displeasure at being asked to provide votes when no Republican had seen the language. Reporters received a background briefing on the proposal an hour before the language was released, so we had a heads-up before many Senate Republicans did.
But the next day, Capito said she was on board with the Manchin license reform plan. But will other Senate Republicans follow? And even if you can get 60 votes with Republican votes offsetting the departure of several Democratic senators, can Manchin push his reform agenda through the House, where only a simple majority is needed?
It has been reported that more than 80 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will not vote for a continued resolution if the authorization reform wording is attached. Manchin hopes the possibility of a government shutdown will bring Democrats to heel. But if climate change is the immediate crisis that many on the left say it is, why wouldn’t they be willing to shut down the government in order to prevent even Manchin’s fossil fuel permit package from happening?
And what incentive will Republicans have to save Manchin’s bacon? They feel betrayed by Manchin’s brutal overthrow that led to the passage of the inappropriately named Curbing Inflation Act (largely a technology bill). clean energy with some additional health care). Sure, Republicans want to allow reform, but they might be inclined to let Manchin writhe in the wind.
I don’t think anyone wants to shut down the government this close to the midterm elections, but the Republicans have shut down the government before and this time the Democrats might actually be to blame since the Democrats control the legislature. While Senate Republicans could give Manchin the votes to avoid a buccaneer, Democratic progressives in the House could cause real trouble.
I wrote a few columns speculating on Manchin’s political motivations for supporting the Cut Inflation Act, including the fact that he had secured the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. ., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for enabling reform.
At the time, I speculated that Manchin could see the political writing on the wall when the Democrats might possibly retain the Senate in November. Manchin has a lot of power as one of two moderate Democrats, but if the Democrats win seats in November, Manchin’s power is diluted. It was now or never to get much-needed licensing reform.
But many prognosticators and some polls show that maybe things are turning the Republican way. Most think the House was always going to swing in November, but now many think Republicans can clinch a majority in the Senate, even if it’s a 51-49 majority.
Manchin is the last elected statewide Democratic representative from West Virginia. Republicans are already sharpening their knives for 2024. Republicans in Congress will have to decide whether to give Manchin one last victory or let him crumble when he can’t even get enough Democrats to authorize reform.
The worst case scenario is a government shutdown. At best, the resolution continues to advance, but an attempt to amend the permissions reform at the CR fails. Then Manchin will have to spend two years explaining why the reform authorization failed and why he supported the Inflation Reduction Act, especially if the Federal Reserve cannot quickly reverse inflation rates.
It could be a tough two years before Manchin’s re-election.
(Adams is the state government reporter for Ogden Newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)