Joe Manchin Blasts Bernie Sanders’ ‘Oblivious’ Opposition To Energy Deal Amid Threat Of Government Shutdown

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin called out opposition to his energy permitting proposal as “toxic” in a Sunday Wall Street Journal op-ed.

In exchange for Manchin’s support for the Inflation Reduction Act, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York promised the moderate that legislation shortening the approval process for energy projects would pass the Senate. Schumer is including Manchin’s bill, the Energy Independence and Security Act, in the government funding bill that Congress must pass by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown. Left-wing members of Congress, led by Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, have suggested that Democrats may force a government shutdown rather than vote for Manchin’s package.

“We are in the midst of a global energy war, and the American people — Republican, Democrat and independent — are paying the price,” Manchin wrote. “The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, and the permitting reform it lays out, will help secure America’s energy future more quickly by setting deadlines and requiring simultaneous agency reviews, something we did for public-works projects in the bipartisan infrastructure law.”

The Energy Independence and Security Act would speed up construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline between Virginia and West Virginia that has been blocked by bureaucratic red tape. It would also require agencies to approve or deny energy projects within one or two years of initial application. The legislation applies to both green and carbon energy projects.

“Whether you support more clean energy, more fossil fuels, or a balanced approach as I do, this reform will help the U.S. achieve it,” Manchin added. (RELATED: Joe Manchin Again Urges Biden To Reinstate Keystone XL Pipeline)

Manchin ripped Sanders’ opposition as “oblivious to … reality,” continuing the feud between the two senators. During negotiations over the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social spending package, Sanders wrote an op-ed in Manchin’s hometown newspaper calling on him to support the legislation. Sanders also accused Manchin of sabotage.

The West Virginia senator also took aim at Republicans, many of whom have suggested they will not support the proposal. Manchin announced his support for the Inflation Reduction Act just hours after 17 Republicans voted in favor of the CHIPS and Science Act, which Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP would not support if Democrats pursued reconciliation. Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn said the announcement created “bad blood” between Manchin and the GOP. Republican West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has said she will support the permitting reform’s inclusion in a government funding package.

“Extreme politics are blinding some to the realities of what we must do to keep our energy future secure for generations to come. What else could possibly explain why any Republican would even consider supporting the same position as Sen. Sanders when it comes to energy?” Manchin asked.