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

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Manchin: Trump should make his clothes in West Virginia Sanders supporter to run against red-state Democrat 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 McConnellAACR’s march on Washington Poll: Dems have enthusiasm edge for 2018 The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 InhofeTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations Optimism rising for infrastructure deal Repeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate 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.