Energy & Environment

Progressives push back on effort to put Manchin permitting deal in NDAA

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Greg Nash
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Thursday, May 19, 2022 to discuss the Puerto Rico Status Act.

At least two progressive Democrats on Monday said they would vote against a defense spending bill if it contains elements of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform push. 

Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted that they would vote against the annual bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), if it contained what they described as “giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.”

“We can advance permitting for clean energy without taking a hatchet to environmental protections for frontline communities.This is not what @RepMcEachin would have wanted,” Grijalva said, invoking the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.). 

“I will vote against the NDAA rule if we continue with this fossil fuel giveaway,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Khanna expressed optimism that the legislation could be stopped. 

“I will vote against the rule for NDAA consideration if it includes giveaways to the fossil fuel industry. If even 10 House progressives vote against it, it likely can’t pass,” Khanna tweeted. 

A spokesperson confirmed that the lawmaker was referring to permitting reform in his tweet. 

Last year, Grijalva voted for the NDAA, while Khanna voted against it.

Permitting reform refers to changes to the energy approval process. Manchin has been pushing for changes that would be expected to speed up approvals for both fossil and renewable energy infrastructure. 

The West Virginia Democrat has said he wants to put the permitting changes into the NDAA. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were discussing the inclusion of the provisions with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.). 

Democratic leadership pledged to support Manchin’s permitting effort in exchange for his support of the party’s climate, tax and health care bill. 

However, the last attempt to attach the deal to must-pass legislation — a stopgap funding measure known as a continuing resolution — was derailed amid opposition from both progressives and Republicans. 

Manchin has been trying to court Republicans to his cause in recent weeks, and some have expressed openness to working with him.

The changes he has pushed for include the approval of a natural gas pipeline through his home state and shorter timelines for environmental reviews. 

As lawmakers work out a measure to fund the military for next year, the permitting reform issue  is not the only factor that could drive members of either party toward or away from the bill. But if it’s included, it could make the math messier. 

A group of more than 70 House Democrats came out against the now-failed attempt to attach permitting reform to the continuing resolution.

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Donald McEachin Joe Manchin Nancy Pelosi Raul Grijalva Ro Khanna
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