The Republicans may have other plans. Manchin likely needs a dozen of the 50 GOP senators to back his efforts, in part because of potential opposition from a handful of Democratic senators. That means McConnell can afford only a handful of defections if he intends to block Democrats’ efforts to pass the two bills together this week.
If the two are separated, Manchin’s chances of paying his permit bill himself are slim.
McConnell has at times collaborated with Democrats on bipartisan legislation this term, a surprising development after his reputation for shutting down former President Barack Obama’s agenda. He also praised Manchin for stopping a larger spending bill last year and opposing the filibuster amendment.
He sees no need to help Manchin, however, after the centrist Democrat signed the party tax, climate and health bill during the summer.
Permit reform did not fit the Democrats’ party line legislation, so Schumer and the president Nancy Pelosi agreed to put it to a vote later as a condition of Manchin’s support for the broader bill. More importantly, he now needs 60 votes to clear the first procedural hurdle on Tuesday. It’s hard to get if McConnell opposes it.
McConnell said last week that Manchin and other Democrats should join the senator. Shelley MooreCapito‘s (RW.Va.) version of enabling legislation or “it looks like the senior senator from West Virginia traded his vote for a huge liberal mess in exchange for nothing.”
McConnell and other Republicans say Manchin’s bill isn’t strong enough to get the Biden administration to authorize. Capito’s bill would bypass some environmental regulations and not focus on clean energy projects like Manchin does. Monday, sen. Kevin Cramer (RN.D.) said “Manchin’s bill still seems inadequate to me.”
“Whether [Manchin’s] The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 was the awful bill that Chief McConnell claims to be, he wouldn’t have to work so hard to organize his conference against it, ”said a Democratic aide, s speaking on condition of anonymity. Manchin said he believed it was the best chance for success on an effort Republicans had been talking about for years but failed to execute when they had unified control of government.
McConnell usually wins once he starts leaning on his membership to block something — particularly if it could help Manchin win re-election in 2024, should he run for another term. Manchin, however, said on Sunday that he believed he might still be able to muster the votes.
“We’re trying to take everybody’s opinion on this and the opinion of my Republican friends is in this bill,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m very optimistic that we have the opportunity, they realize this opportunity.”