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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin on Tuesday insisted that language to speed up the approval of energy projects must be included in a bill to fund the federal government by the end of September, even as bipartisan opposition threatened to kill it.
Manchin, D-W.Va., negotiated a deal with Schumer, D-N.Y., over the summer to vote on permitting reform in exchange for his vote on the “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA). That agreement angered members of both parties – Republicans who felt betrayed that Manchin helped Democrats pass a party-line tax and spending bill, and progressives who oppose energy projects.
“No, they’re gonna have to take it out and handle it some other route,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Tuesday when asked if there’s enough GOP support to pass the bill.
“I haven’t whipped it but there’s not a lot of enthusiasm for helping Sen. Manchin out of his bind,” Cornyn added. “Sen. Schumer’s playing Lucy with the football.”
“All across the world there is an understanding that if we’re going to save this planet… we have to boldly move away from fossil fuels,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Tuesday. “I will do my best to see that provision is not passed.”
Nonetheless, Schumer said the permitting language would remain in the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government, which must pass before the end of the month, and that it will pass.
“Permitting reform is part of the IRA [agreement] and I intend to add it to the CR and get it done,” he said Tuesday.
Manchin lit into Republicans on Tuesday for trying to block one of the last best chances to pass permitting reform for years, and said Schumer has been “very clear and direct” about including it.
“We’re going to vote and it’s going to be in the CR,” Manchin said. “And if they’re willing to say, ‘We’re going to close down the government because of a personal attack on me…’ This is what makes people sick about politics.”
“I’m hearing that the Republican leadership is upset and they’re saying, ‘We’re not going to give a victory to Joe Manchin,'” he added. “The bottom line is, how much suffering and how much pain do you want to inflict on the American people?”
Republicans are touting a separate permitting reform bill from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W-Va., as a better alternative than addressing the issue through the government funding bill. They also lament that they haven’t seen the text of Manchin’s language yet – he says it will be released Wednesday.
“You’re going to hear a lot of Republicans say this week that it’s going to be easier for Manchin to deliver 13 Dem votes for Capito’s bill than it will be for him to get 20 GOP votes for a bill no one has seen yet,” one Republican aide said.
Many Republicans so far are citing the fact Manchin’s bill text is not yet public as reason to stay undecided on the legislation.
“I don’t know whether – how much and where all the opposition to the Manchin proposal is,” Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said. “But there’s gonna be some.”
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said last week that he will compare Manchin’s proposal to Capito’s bill, and that he will not back “a meager solution intended to help Sen. Manchin save face.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Tuesday, “I may support it, I just haven’t read it.”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told Fox News Digital she spoke with Manchin about his permitting proposal, but said she hadn’t seen the details. She declined to answer if she would be willing to vote against a funding bill depending on the substance of Manchin’s permitting reform.
A spokesperson for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., said she would be willing to consider voting for Manchin’s proposal, depending on the details. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said he would consider it, but “said it really comes down to what the plain letter of the text is.”
Even if Manchin’s government funding deal makes it out of the Senate, it may have only cleared its easiest hurdle.
More than 70 House Democrats say they oppose the inclusion of energy permitting language in the funding bill. And it’s unclear if there are enough GOP votes in the House to make up for any Democratic defections. House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffires, D-N.Y., Tuesday declined to answer a question from Fox News Digital on if the votes are there to pass the Manchin-Schumer deal.
“Until there is final text for us to review I’ll refrain from any additional comments,” he said.
Fox News’ Haris Alic and Kelly Phares contributed to this report.