The side deal that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has with Democrat leaders to implement permitting reform legislation, which would expedite the environmental review process of infrastructure and energy projects, is on life support.
Manchin negotiated his side deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., when he agreed to vote for the Inflation Reduction Act.
According to The Hill, Republicans are looking to deprive the lawmaker of a significant victory that could aid his potential 2024 reelection.
Manchin is trying to strike a deal with his Republican colleagues in the lame-duck session. But Republicans say Manchin's legislation faces an uphill battle because the congressman's seat could be up for grabs in the next election.
"It's a heavy lift, but we're still exchanging ideas," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., one of the lead Republicans negotiating for permitting reform.
Ultimately, passing permitting reform legislation before the start of the next Congress, or even next year, depends on whether Manchin runs for a fourth term. Despite no formal announcement, Manchin has pointed out he intends to run for reelection.
"I've never run unopposed. I've always been expecting rigorous" competition, the senator said. "I'm anxious to just watch the fireworks on the Republican primary side. I think there will be a lot of people in [the GOP Senate primary]."
If Manchin passes the permitting reform legislation, authorization for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is included in his bill, would be a big win in West Virginia, where fossil fuel is the "life's blood" of the state economy, Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, said.
Still, it's not just Republicans trying to foil Manchin's plans. On Monday, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., the House Committee on Natural Resources chairman, sent a letter to Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., requesting them "to exclude harmful permitting provisions from must-pass legislation this year."
Speaking before the start of the Thanksgiving recess, Manchin said, "I think all of us agree that we need permitting reform. We need more pipelines; we need to be able to produce and get product to market."
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