Republicans unload on Manchin, Sinema on reconciliation

By Jeremy Dillon | 08/05/2022 01:35 PM EDT

Senate GOP members are also promising a painful amendment process before final passage of the climate, tax and health care package.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) during a press conference today. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Senate Republicans today slammed moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, in comments that threatened to block permitting reforms planned for next month.

The comments from Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and other Republicans follow news last night that Democrats have secured support from all 50 caucus members for budget reconciliation legislation with $369 billion in climate and energy spending.

Dubbing it a “political payback scheme,” Republicans threatened to tank the permitting reform deal Manchin secured with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Joe Biden.


Schumer has indicated that permitting reform could ride in a spending continuing resolution. Republicans, who have long supported many of the permitting deal’s provisions, are lining up in opposition.

“Sen. Manchin, if you think you are going to get 60 votes to get the sweeteners that cannot be done in reconciliation, you need to think long and hard about what you are doing,” top Budget Committee Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters this morning.

Schumer, during his own press conference, appeared unconcerned about GOP threats on permitting.

“It’s a long time, it’s a long time away,” Schumer said.

The Senate is gearing up to hold an initial procedural vote on the reconciliation package tomorrow afternoon. The $369 billion in clean energy spending would be one of the biggest climate-focused investments in the nation’s history.

Republicans this morning highlighted new costs on oil and gas production, having to do with international import and Superfund-related taxes.

“Joe Manchin has agreed to something that the folks in West Virginia and in Wyoming said, ‘Joe Manchin, what the heck are you thinking?'” Barrasso told reporters.

Barrasso also pointed to opposition from the West Virginia Coal Association. Manchin sent group leaders a letter yesterday rebutting their claims (E&E Daily, Aug. 5).

Barrasso’s direct attacks on Manchin, who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, were notable because of their previous bipartisan collaboration on energy and environment issues. The GOP in the past has tried to woo Manchin to its side.

Vote-a-rama ‘will be like hell’

This morning’s Republican press conference also included a preview of how the party intends to handle the “vote-a-rama” scheduled to begin this weekend. Members on both sides will introduce a flurry of amendments to reconciliation before final passage. Barrasso said energy security, inflation, the border and crime would be top GOP issues.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) pressured Manchin and Sinema to oppose a so-called drawback amendment. That’s an amendment Democratic leaders may offer to undo previously passed amendments.

“What will vote-a-rama be like? It will be like hell,” said Graham.

Schumer was largely dismissive of Republican attacks on the bill.

“Republicans are scraping the bottom of the barrel for justification to oppose this bill,” Schumer said, adding that Republican attacks “can’t even seem to lay a glove on this. They don’t know what to do.”

Schumer also swatted away concerns about tough amendment votes Democrats may take.

“When we pass this legislation, that will dominate,” Schumer said. “And these amendments vote around the legislation will be dwarfed by that we’re actually helping the American people instead of just playing political games.”

The House announced today it would be in session next Friday to take up budget reconciliation.