Manchin stands by coal measure in Ex-Im bill

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday that he doesn't plan to remove coal-supporting language in his Export-Import Bank reauthorization bill, despite growing concerns from his own party.

"I don't intend to do that," Manchin said, when asked if he might strike the coal provisions from his proposal. "We just have to see how we can get forward movement."

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Manchin and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are floating a five-year reauthorization proposal that would reverse the bank's guidelines preventing financing for overseas power plants that don't adopt carbon capture technology. Exceptions are allowed for the world's poorest countries.

Manchin conceded that "there's people that have concerns about it," though he declined to go into specifics.

On Tuesday, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) criticized Manchin's coal provision, citing environmental concerns.

Manchin said he met with senior Democratic leadership Tuesday night to discuss Ex-Im reauthorization, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Asked of a timeline, Manchin said, "There is none. We're working on that now."

Reid confirmed Tuesday night's meeting as one of many that Democratic leadership has had with Manchin over the past few days on the bill.

"We have met with Sen. Manchin quite a few times over the last few days, along with Sen. Maria Cantwell [(D-Wash.)]," Reid told reporters. "We are trying to figure out a way to move forward on this very important bill."

Cantwell likely voiced concern over Manchin's coal provision in the meetings. Her office confirmed she does not support the measure but is a staunch advocate for reauthorization of Ex-Im.

Schumer was tight-lipped.

"I'm not going to talk about a private meeting," Schumer said.

When asked if he supported Manchin's coal policies, Schumer repeated: "I'm not going to talk about a private meeting."

Congress needs to reauthorize Ex-Im by Sept. 30 or it shuts down.

Republicans are split on the issue. Tea Partiers argue that it's "corporate welfare," while more centrist Republicans say the federally backed bank helps sustain U.S. jobs.

On Wednesday, Reid attributed the hold up on the proposal to the split in the Republican conference.

"The problem is Republicans are having a little trouble figuring out exactly what they want, and we are trying to find a way to move forward," Reid said.

Most Democrats support Ex-Im, but Manchin's coal provisions could further complicate the issue, pitting coal Democrats like Manchin against green Democrats, like Boxer. 

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