Tension in Congress is building as Democrat leaders try to satisfy Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a deal with Manchin to include permitting reform in the CR to get his support for President Joe Biden's since-signed climate and healthcare bill.
Now, Schumer and other Democrat leaders are working behind closed doors to finalize an agreement before the month's end.
"We don't know what it is. They haven't released the text, they don't give us the detailed explanation," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told The Hill. "So, I don't know how you could ask people to vote for something they don't know what it is.
"There's a reason they're keeping it secret: it's either still being negotiated or it's so weak it has no meaning or it's too strong for other people."
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, speculated that the CR might not be released until "probably closer to the end of the month."
Shelby questioned whether Manchin's permitting measure will make it into the larger funding package, The Hill said.
"Republicans and a lot of Democrats [are] against it. So, I don't know where it goes yet," said Shelby, who also pointed to a separate permitting proposal, released by Capito and other Republicans, as an alternative.
The Washington Examiner last month reported that members from both major political parties were unhappy about a permitting reform deal tied to the climate and healthcare legislation.
So far, only a broad outline of Manchin's plan has been released. Among the items is that a natural gas pipeline running through West Virginia would be completed.
"It includes setting maximum timelines for the environmental review process for energy projects, which advocates say could undercut the analysis required for a project's approval and weaken community involvement," The Hill said. "Other components would make it harder for states to block projects that run through their waters and require the president to pick a 'balanced' list of energy projects that should be prioritized."
Even progressives are frustrated with the secret negotiations.
"We're negotiating in the dark and all the cards are held by the Senate, and we're just supposed to react," Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., told The Hill.
Grijalva, who's leading the left-wing opposition to Manchin's reforms, said he's seeking a meeting with leadership to negotiate. He also plans to reach out to Manchin, The Hill said.
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