Curtis Tate Published

Can Manchin Get The Votes He Needs For His Permitting Bill?

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is building support on Capitol Hill for his permitting reform legislation for energy projects. But he’s still short of the votes he needs.

Manchin released the text of his legislation on Wednesday. By Thursday, he appeared to pick up support for it on both sides of the aisle. Crucially, among them was his fellow West Virginian, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

Capito could persuade her fellow Republicans to support Manchin’s bill – last week, he told reporters he was hoping she would.

On the other hand, some of his fellow Democrats have said they won’t support it. That group includes Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. The bill would fast-track the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which passes through Virginia and West Virginia. The 300-mile natural gas pipeline is a top priority for both Manchin and Capito.

Republicans want some of the same permitting changes Manchin does, but some of them still feel burned by the Inflation Reduction Act, which Manchin negotiated over the summer. No Republicans voted for it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to include Manchin’s legislation in a must-pass spending package to keep the government open after Sept. 30.

The deal has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden.

In addition to easing permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Manchin’s bill would also accelerate construction of new transmission lines for renewable energy — a key component of decarbonizing the electric power grid.