The Senate voted Tuesday on the motion to end the debate on proceeding to a continuing resolution to avoid a partial government shutdown. The vote was 72-23. In order to get to the vote, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) agreed to pull his permitting reform bill that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attached as a rider to the continuing resolution.
As predicted, Schumer will get his vote on a continuing resolution to keep the government from going into a partial shutdown at the end of the week. Republican senators sided with progressive Democrats to deny Manchin his permitting reform bill and Manchin simply didn’t have the votes to pass his bill. I started my post on Manchin’s predicament yesterday by saying he was about to hit a brick wall. That is exactly what happened. The question is why did he ever trust his fellow Democrats in the first place?
Manchin began to believe his own publicity as a dealmaker. He and Senator Sinema have become known as two Democrats in the Senate who often refuse to go along with Joe Biden’s progressive agenda. They hold out on committing to vote for big spending and new taxes until they receive concessions. With an evenly divided Senate, Manchin, in particular, has embraced his new-found power to be a dealmaker. That all came to an end, though, when he voted yes on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). He held out until the last minute when he received assurances from Schumer that his permitting reform bill would get a vote by the end of September and West Virginia would get a pipeline. Manchin wanted the bragging rights for delivering the the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project with an estimated 3,700 construction jobs, to the voters in West Virginia. He is up for re-election in 2024 and his popularity crashed to all-time lows when he voted yes for the inflation Reduction Act, a big spending climate change bill, not a bill that will reduce inflation.
It was difficult to understand exactly what Manchin was thinking when he sided with Democrats on the IRA. What he did, though, was destroy any goodwill he had accumulated with Senate Republicans who were willing to work with him. No Republican in the Senate voted for IRA. When Manchin did, he burned bridges. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the junior senator from West Virginia, wrote her own permitting reform bill. Republicans united in their support for her bill and against Manchin’s bill. Progressives like Bernie Sanders were never going to support Manchin’s bill because it would reform the regulations and red tape in the permitting process. That will free up oil and gas companies and Sanders is all about shutting down fossil fuel exploration and drilling, as are other Senate Democrats.
Manchin knew he would lose Democrat votes but claimed surprise at the fact that Republicans abandoned him. He looked naive as he complained in television interviews about Republicans. He’s a seasoned politician and sounded like a freshman. In the end, he tucked his tail between his legs and pulled his bill from the continuing resolution.
Schumer won. He will be able to avoid a partial government shutdown. He told Manchin he will bring the permitting reform bill back before the end of the year.
“Sen. Manchin, myself and others will continue to have conversations about the best way to ensure responsible permitting reform is passed before the end of the year,” Schumer said Tuesday shortly before the cloture vote on the motion to proceed.
Manchin said in a statement that a “failed vote” on his proposal would “embolden” leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and push the federal government to the brink of a partial government shutdown. Current appropriations are set to lapse at midnight Saturday.
The move likely paves the way for quicker passage of the continuing resolution in the Senate, with time running short before Friday’s deadline. The House has “same-day” authority to take the measure up as soon as it reaches that chamber, but fewer procedural hoops for the Senate to jump through will give congressional leaders and federal agencies a little more breathing room.
Passage of the continuing resolution will fund the government through December 16. There is new funding included in the continuing resolution.
The underlying bill would extend current government funding levels through Dec. 16 with certain exceptions, or “anomalies,” for specific programs that need higher rates of funding. Congressional leaders also agreed to tack on $12.3 billion for assistance to Ukraine and $5 billion for assorted other purposes, like disaster relief and caring for unaccompanied migrant children at the border.
Victims of a devastating New Mexico wildfire would be eligible for $2.5 billion in compensation under the measure, and the State Department would receive as much as $3 billion from existing Pentagon funds to help resettle Afghan refugees.
McConnell said earlier in the day, as he urged Republicans to remain united against Manchin’s bill, that Manchin made a bad deal with the Democrats for his yes vote on IRA.
“If tepid Democrat support for this phony fig leaf is all that our colleague from West Virginia got in return for approving yet another tax and spending spree during an inflation crisis, it’s hard to imagine a worse bargain for a senator or for the country,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said earlier on the floor, before Manchin’s announcement.
As usual, McConnell is right. What was Manchin thinking? His thought process on this whole episode remains a mystery. He walked away empty-handed and humiliated. So much for the expert dealmaker, eh?