Manchin: Up to 15 Senate Dems in play for killing climate rules

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators introduce dueling miners bills Senate panel sets vote on Sessions for AG Five things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights MORE (D-W.Va.) is betting that as many as 15 Senate Democrats will back a GOP-led bill that strips EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.

His estimate of Democratic support is far above what is widely believed and would put the measure — which might receive a Senate vote next week — on the brink of the 60 votes needed or over the top.

Manchin, in a West Virginia radio interview this morning, said he’s urging fellow Democrats to back Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Senators introduce dueling miners bills Dems demand second hearing for Trump's Education nominee MORE’s (R-Ky.) amendment to small-business legislation.

“Other people might not, but I believe there’ll be 13 to 15 Democrats that will vote for it,” Manchin said on the “Hoppy Kercheval Show.”

McConnell wants to attach Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeSenate teeing up Mattis waiver Lawmakers play nice at Russia hacking hearing Senate chairman meets Trump’s EPA nominee MORE’s (R-Okla.) EPA-blocking measure to the small-business bill. Inhofe’s plan currently has 43 co-sponsors. Manchin is the sole Democratic co-sponsor, but several other centrist Democrats including Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) appear to be in play.

However, several Democrats are offering alternative amendments that would limit or delay EPA’s rules without killing the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. These measures will likely draw Democratic backing away from the GOP plan, although all the measures face very high hurdles to adoption.

Manchin, who faces reelection in 2012, said on the program that he is “working” on other Democrats to join him in support of the McConnell plan.

“I think they’re going to vote for it, I really do. Now I guess they don’t want to take the lead on something that I feel so strongly about. I just believe that the EPA has totally overstepped its boundaries,” Manchin said.

His comments delighted McConnell’s office, which circulated the snippet to reporters.