Prospects dim in House for Sen. Joe Manchin's federal permitting measure

Benjamin J. Hulac, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — A federal permitting deal between Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., is facing pushback from environmentalists and would be difficult to get through the House, lawmakers said.

As part of a deal to secure Manchin’s support for the climate, health care and tax bill President Joe Biden signed into law Tuesday afternoon, Schumer agreed to put a separate bill on federal permitting up for a vote. But threading that deal through Congress when both chambers return from August recess could be a slog, liberal and conservative House lawmakers said.

“I don’t know about the Senate, but on the House side, some Democrats are not going to support it,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said in an interview.

Asked if the permitting deal could be attached to an appropriations bill needed to keep the federal government open past Sept. 30, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., demurred: “That’s clearly an issue, but we haven’t discussed it yet so I can’t tell you what the caucus feels about it.”

Speeding up the permitting process for construction projects has some support from both parties, especially Republicans from districts with a heavy fossil energy industry, but guiding Manchin’s proposal through both chambers provides limited room for error, given the Senate’s 50-50 split and a narrow margin in the House.

Progressive House members said they want to scrutinize the deal before weighing in.


Natural Resources Chairman Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the permitting deal must be “studied and dissected” to ensure it wouldn’t hurt the climate and undercut the climate policies Democrats included in the new law.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters Friday she had not seen details of the permitting proposal.

“We need to be vigilant about some of the things that apparently were agreed to,” Jayapal said. “We haven’t agreed to those, we haven’t even seen all of them.”

The permitting legislation would set timelines for environmental reviews of projects, alter the Clean Water Act, carve out statutes of limitations for lawsuits and approve a roughly 300 mile gas pipeline running from West Virginia to Virginia, according to a summary from Manchin’s office.


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