Lawmakers are frustrated about being kept in the dark as Democratic leaders strategize how to jimmy an energy deal struck with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) behind closed doors through Congress — while also averting a government shutdown.
Democratic leadership is aiming to use a must-pass government-funding bill to advance an energy permitting proposal by Manchin by the end of the month. But with roughly two weeks standing between Congress and the critical funding deadline, tensions are simmering over the closely-kept negotiations.
“We don’t know what it is. They haven’t released the text, they don’t give us the detailed explanation,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told The Hill this week. “So, I don’t know how you could ask people to vote for something they don’t know what it is.”
“There’s a reason they’re keeping it secret: it’s either still being negotiated or it’s so weak it has no meaning or it’s too strong for other people,” she added.
Only a broad outline of Manchin’s plan has been released.
But in the absence of official text, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are complaining that they don’t know what they’re debating.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) who is leading the left-wing opposition to Manchin’s reforms, said he’d be open to negotiating a package if it will provide protections for communities that face high pollution burdens.
- Still, he expressed frustration that the details of Manchin’s proposal haven’t been spelled out.
“We’re negotiating in the dark and all the cards are held by the Senate and we’re just supposed to react,” Grijalva told The Hill.
Keep in touch: He said he’s seeking a meeting with leadership to negotiate and also plans to reach out to Manchin.
Pressed on Thursday whether the text would be released before legislation is unveiled for the funding bill, Manchin told The Hill he believes it will be “released in the CR,” referring to the continuing resolution, which is expected to push the government funding deadline to December as the midterm cycle picks up.
A continuing resolution is a short-term spending bill that keeps spending at present levels.
As for when and how the funding bill will be brought up for consideration, much appears to be up in the air, as top leaders indicate those details are still being hashed out.
Under pressure: Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, speculated that the CR might not drop until “probably closer to the end of the month” — which he noted would up the pressure on both sides to pass a CR before funding lapses.
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