McConnell blasts Manchin permitting bill as ‘poison pill,’ ‘phony fig leaf’
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday afternoon blasted Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform bill as a “poison pill” and “permitting reform in name only,” signaling that Republicans will block it on the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) included Manchin’s permitting reform legislation in a bill funding the government through Dec. 16 but Republicans, including Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, say they will vote “no” to stop Manchin’s legislation.
McConnell didn’t spare any effort in ripping Manchin’s bill to shreds on the Senate floor, putting pressure on fellow Republicans to also vote no.
“The poison pill is a phony attempt to address an important topic of permitting reform,” he said.
“What our Democratic colleagues have produced is a phony fig leaf that would actually set back the cause of real permitting reform,” he added. “Amazingly our Democratic colleagues have managed to write language that would actually — listen to this — make things even worse.”
McConnell argued that Manchin’s bill would layer new bureaucracy on top of existing bureaucracy without amending the National Environmental Policy Act to speed the approval of energy projects.
He also pointed to the objections of a group of Republican state attorneys general who warned that Manchin’s bill would give trample on state sovereignty by empowering the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to direct the construction of power lines it determines are in the national interest.
He argued that the new deadlines and requirements in the bill are “paper tigers” because they are not backed up by adequate enforcement provisions.
“These state-level officials are also sounding the alarm about higher costs for their citizens. They write the Manchin proposal could impose ‘potentially back-breaking costs on residents who could see no true energy benefit whatsoever,’” he said, quoting from the attorneys’ general letter to Senate leaders.
McConnell instead urged Schumer to drop Manchin’s permitting reform language from the short-term funding measure and bring a new bill to the floor to keep government departments and agencies operating past Sept. 30.
“This all-Democratic government has a smooth and obvious path on government funding. The path is obvious — drop the extraneous partisan language and let the bipartisan [continuing funding resolution] move forward,” he said.