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Manchin Makes Demands In Negotiations On Energy Bill

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is still a fly in the ointment for the agenda of President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats.

The moderate senator is back at the negotiating table on a clean energy bill that he once declared “dead,” but there is a catch, CNN reported.

Being realistic to the energy needs of today, Sen. Manchin wants to include funding for more fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States, in part because of the energy crisis Europe is facing.

“You have to,” the senator said to CNN this week. “You want to be Europe? You can’t leave yourself vulnerable. The US has to be energy independent. You have to have infrastructure to do that, and you can’t just shut them down or kill them with a thousand cuts.”

Exactly how much money Manchin wants to dedicate to fossil fuels compared to investments in clean energy is so far unclear, as his conversations with the White House continue.

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At this point, there are no direct or formalized conversations between Manchin and House progressives, a source told CNN. Instead, talks are far more informal.

But some progressives already seem resigned to the fact that they’ll eventually have to cut a deal with Manchin, and that trading fossil fuel funding for clean energy investment is a price they may have to pay.

“If we have to have things that are going to have an increase of short-term [fossil fuel] production for massive investments in climate that will long-term increase our renewable energy – that is in my view worth doing,” California Rep. Ro Khanna said, a deputy whip in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “I think we can get to a deal that will have bold climate provisions and that will be a compromise that will advance the climate goals.”

“I think we’re going to be open to other provisions that Sen. Manchin might want to advocate for, so I’m looking forward to a conversation about any additional provisions that he might be interested in,” Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said. “Obviously we are still working hard in order to get the $555 billion for the climate provisions that were in the Build Back Better bill.”

The Democrats know that they may not get everything they wanted to get in the Build Back Better deal, but they may be open to taking something.

“It is too hard to even know what he is talking about, so I don’t want to respond unless there is something specific,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the progressive caucus, said. “I would have to see it.”

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“I think we have to be open minded at this point. We desperately need climate provisions because the clock is running out so if the grand bargain is desperately needed investments right now to make sure we are ready to get to net 0 by 2050… let’s do what we have to do,” Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said.

But not all Democrats want to negotiate with Sen. Manchin after he initially killed Build Back Better.

“I don’t want to prejudge anything, I want to see what can pass through the Senate, but I am appalled by the idea that we would deepen our reliance on fossil fuel at a time that is opportune for clean energy,” New York progressive Rep. Mondaire Jones said.

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The West Virginia senator has been a thorn in the side of President Biden since the start of his administration.

Last month Manchin announced that he would oppose one of President Joe Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve, leaving her candidacy to join the central bank in serious trouble.

“I have carefully reviewed Sarah Bloom Raskin’s qualifications and previous public statements. Her previous public statements have failed to satisfactorily address my concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs,” Manchin said in a statement.

“I have come to the conclusion that I am unable to support her nomination to serve as a member of the Federal Reserve Board,” he added.

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