WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Thursday he’s willing to shut down the federal government to get permitting reform to benefit the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline across the finish line.
Manchin and fellow U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito held back-to-back virtual media events with reporters Thursday afternoon. Both spent most of their comments on the permitting reform issue.
Manchin has pushed for the Democratic leaders in the Senate to include the permitting language as part of support for Manchin’s negotiated passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. He denied again Thursday that it was a side deal. He said unfortunately the issue has become Democrat vs. Republican.
Capito, who has yet to see the language, has convinced a number of Republicans to back a separate bill, the Simplify Timelines and Assure Regulatory Transparency Act.
An animated Manchin predicted if the permitting language is not in the Continuing Resolution, up soon for a vote to keep the federal government running, the reform won’t happen.
“Let me very clear to all of you,” Manchin said. “If it doesn’t get done on this continuing resolution then it’s dead, D-E-A-D dead.”
Manchin said Democrats will feel no obligation to approve the permitting reforms after the CR.
“This is it,” Manchin said.
Capito said she’s not so sure.
“I think if it doesn’t make it on the CR like he says, I wouldn’t throw the towel in,” Capito said. “I understand why he is saying that because it puts more force into being able to garner the votes to get that done.”
Manchin said the country is facing record-high energy prices because the lack of energy and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is 94% complete, can put 2 billion cubic feet into the system.
“So I’m willing to shutdown the government to get the best of the best. I’ll let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I’m willing to shut the government down,” Manchin said.
Capito said Thursday that she’d still like to see the language. She had a conversation with Manchin Wednesday.
“I have a bill that simply has ideas in it–has no chance of passing unless we pick up 10 Democrats–but if you’re not being asked to be in the room but you’re being asked to vote for something wouldn’t you like to know what are the things that are going to get me to be able to vote for what you want,” Capito said.
She said it’s still a wait and see between now and the Sept. 30 voting deadline.
“We’ll have to see what strategies Senator Schumer (Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer) has worked out. What was promised in this deal that nobody else knows about to see if the deal cut behind closed doors without any input from Republicans can get done,” Capito said. “I want the Mountain Valley Pipeline. There’s no question about that.”
Manchin said the CR passes the Senate with the permitting language in it the momentum will carry it through the House.
“This is something Republicans have wanted since I’ve been here,” he said.