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Manchin ‘didn’t expect’ Republicans to join Bernie Sanders in opposition to energy permitting bill

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In an interview with Fox News on Monday, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin expressed surprise the GOP is whipping against his energy permitting bill, which is to be included in the continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown.

Manchin, one of few Democrats supportive of an all-of-the-above approach to U.S. energy production, said he knew he would never get Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders on board, but did not expect his neighboring state’s senior senator to be against it, too.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is opposed to the Manchin bill, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto reported Monday, with Manchin’s Mountain State counterpart Sen. Shelley Moore Capito being one of few Republicans to have reportedly expressed support.

Capito, however, has a separate permitting bill in the works, which Republicans reportedly would rather see unified support for.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y speaks with reporters alongside Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va.
( (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))

“I never did think Bernie would ever [support it] – he’s never been for any permitting reforms whatsoever, and he’s not been for an energy policy that works for America — That means all-in; you have to have fossil,” Manchin said.

“You have to be strong with your fossil [fuel production]. You have to be energy independent if you want to be secured and if you want to be the superpower of the world, we can walk and chew gum. We can invest in the technology for the future, making sure we have the energy we need today. So I never did think I’d have Bernie and some of the extreme far left.”

Manchin noted when the House, Senate and presidency were in Republican hands early in the Trump era, domestic energy permitting reform was never done, and that he would likely have been the only Democrat to support.

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A West Virginia welcome sign greets travelers leaving the East River Mountain tunnel on Interstate 77 near Princeton, W.V.

A West Virginia welcome sign greets travelers leaving the East River Mountain tunnel on Interstate 77 near Princeton, W.V.
(Fox News/Charles Creitz)

“Now we have a piece of legislation that I’m sure doesn’t go far enough. For some, it goes maybe too far for others. So if you have both sides upset, maybe we have a pretty good balanced bill. That’s what we’re trying to do,” he said.

Manchin pointed out the possibility that opposing the bill – added to the docket due to a deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., following Manchin’s support for the inflation law last month – could lead to a government shutdown.

“I think when people look in and say, ‘No, I’d rather vote to shut down the government than do the first permitting bill and maybe the only permitting reform bill that we ever do in our lifetime’ … people just aren’t going to be there at all. And it is what it is,” he said.

Cavuto proffered whether McConnell’s opposition could be in response to Manchin’s support for “Inflation Reduction Act” he helped pass last month. Manchin partially disagreed, saying some conservatives’ criticisms of the corporate minimum tax portion of that bill are largely unfounded.

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 16: U.S. President Joe Biden (R) moves to give Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (L) the pen he used to sign The Inflation Reduction Act with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) in the State Dining Room of the White House August 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. 

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 16: U.S. President Joe Biden (R) moves to give Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (L) the pen he used to sign The Inflation Reduction Act with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) in the State Dining Room of the White House August 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. 
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The host also noted how some Democrats from energy-producing states are also against his bill – including Sen. Timothy Kaine of neighboring Virginia.

The bill has a provision dealing with the MVP/Mountain Valley Pipeline, a mostly-complete project that would connect West Virginia shale lands with an existing compressor station in Pittsylvania, Va.

Kaine reportedly opposes Manchin’s bill because it could possibly interfere with Virginia federal court challenges and settlements – regarding environmental violations among other rulings – that has left the pipeline unfinished in the Pearisburg and Christiansburg areas.

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“Well, I knew where Tim was coming from on the Fourth Circuit,” he said, citing the litigation. “We talked about that. We just have we have agreement to disagree on that. But I understand respect where Tim is coming from, and I said that.”

“What I didn’t expect is that Mitch McConnell, my Republican friends would be signing up with Bernie or trying to get the same outcome by not passing permitting reform.”

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