Pelosi reaffirms support for Manchin side deal: ‘No question’

Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday signaled again her support for an effort by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expedite energy infrastructure projects as part of a government spending package, even as dozens of House Democrats have opposed such a move.

Manchin released the text of his proposal Wednesday evening. The Speaker emphasized Thursday that House lawmakers are waiting to see the details of whatever package the Senate is able to pass, and she left open the possibility that the House could alter a Senate-passed bill.

Pelosi reiterated her support for the Manchin deal despite widespread liberal opposition in her own caucus, saying it was worth the concession to secure the centrist senator’s support for a massive health and climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law last month. 

“We’ll have to see how it comes back from the Senate, and there may be room for negotiation,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “But I’m not walking away from $360 billion in support for saving the planet for our children.”

Pressed on whether she supports the deal, Pelosi was adamant. 

“I said I support it, yes. I said that right from the start,” she said. “There’s no question.”

The comments are sure to anger a number of progressive Democrats in the lower chamber, who are already furious that party leaders would support an effort to expedite fossil fuel projects amid a global climate crisis. Last week, a group of almost 80 liberals signed a letter urging Democratic leaders to divorce Manchin’s proposal from the spending package.

“These destructive provisions will allow polluting manufacturing and energy development projects to be rushed through before the families who are forced to live near them are even aware of the plans,” the liberals wrote.   

Pelosi, along with other Democratic leaders, had endorsed the side deal with Manchin earlier in the summer, promising to vote before October on his proposal to fast-track energy projects, known as permitting reform. In return, Manchin dropped his long-held opposition to the much larger tax, health and climate legislation at the center of Biden’s domestic agenda, sending it to the president’s desk. 

The Speaker last week signaled she could back the Manchin deal if it was included in a Senate funding bill. Congress is racing to pass a short-term spending measure this month, and without congressional action, large parts of the federal government will shutter on Oct. 1.

On Thursday, Pelosi again suggested she could support the Manchin language as part of a spending bill, or continuing resolution, highlighting the health and environmental provisions Democrats won as part of the larger Inflation Reduction Act. 

“This is historic,” she said. “We’re saving the planet with [a] record $360 billion … and generating jobs, and cleaner air and cleaner water and jobs and security for our country.” 

Democrats are hoping for the Senate to begin the process of moving the spending package through Congress, although GOP opposition to Manchin’s proposal has raised significant questions as to whether permitting reform can move through the upper chamber.

A “clean” continuing resolution, without the Manchin provision, would preclude a bitter internal fight among Democrats when the bill comes to the House — a dynamic Pelosi seemed to acknowledge on Thursday.

“Let’s see what happens in the Senate,” she said, “and then we will deal with what we have to do in the House.”

The Senate is expected to launch floor consideration next Tuesday, and Pelosi said the House is ready to move immediately if that’s the case. 

“We have same-day authority already built in, so we don’t have to delay it in any way,” she said. 

If the Senate stumbles in that effort, Pelosi added, “We will have to start it over here.”

Tags Biden Joe Manchin Manchin-Schumer deal Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi permitting
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