Manchin and Capito hit pothole on Country Roads

“They have a working relationship like most of us do. Being on both sides of the parties, I’m sure it gets stressful every once in a while,” Sen said. mike rounds (RSD).

Democratic centrist Munchkin and deal-seeking Republican Capito share a desire to accelerate the construction of large-scale energy projects. But under political pressure, they are falling apart from the details. Capito has its own bill that would weaken some environmental regulations and garner broad GOP support. Munchkin dismissed it as a “messaging bill” because it might not win over Democrats and is racing to finalize a bill that would help with renewable as well as fossil-fuel projects.

Their partnership, and the pressure it is currently under, is generating much intrigue in the clubby Senate as well as the press back home in the Mountain State, where a multi-billion-dollar natural gas line would benefit from the progress.

It all hangs, Manchin’s potential 2024 reelection is underway in deep red West Virginia and the climate, tax and health care package that he negotiated with the Senate Majority Leader. Chuck Schumer (DNY). As part of that deal, Schumer and President Joe Biden agreed to support legislation considering large-scale energy projects, but that push is now in doubt thanks to Republican opposition in the Senate — and because its text Will not be made public until Wednesday.

Last week when Manchin expressed hope that Capito would help build Republican support, he announced that he felt “it’s up to me to provide support for something I had no hands on and still don’t know.” What is this.” She declined to comment on the specifics of her permitting bill this week, saying instead that she needed to look into it first.

And in a sign of their unique cross-aisle relationship, she said of Manchin: “We’re friends. We’ve known each other forever.”

He added that “we disagree” on the specifics of the permitting policy: “I understand and respect that,” Manchin said, describing their relationship as deeper than the energy dispute.

“My friendship with him, and with his family and my family, is unconditional. They can’t put pressure on him,” Manchin said. “Do we have political differences? Sure… I’ll do anything to help my friend Shelley Moore Capito. In any case.”

Manchin got a buy-in from Schumer to put his assent motion in this fall’s government funding bill — except he needs at least 10 Republicans to go along to avoid a filibuster. And Capito will almost certainly have to be part of that effort, except that he’s frustrated that he’s being tasked with completing a deal he wasn’t a part of.

“She’s been patient with Joe, but it’s a step too far,” said one GOP senator summarizing Capito’s view.

“Joe seems like she’s throwing a lifeline out there and hoping she’ll catch it,” said the Senate Minority Whip. John Thune (RSD). “He and Schumer cut the deal. I think it’s unfair, what he’s trying to do is try to portray Shelley in a corner.”

Manchin’s Democratic allies don’t blame him for leaning on his bond with Capito to bring his law to the finish line. Sen john tester (De-Mont.), who has worked with both West Virginians, put it this way: “I would do the same thing if I had that kind of relationship with Capito.”

Indeed, Manchins and Moors run as deep as a coal seam in West Virginia. Capito’s father, Arch Moore, was governor for 12 years; His son Moore serves in the Capito state legislature; His nephew, Riley Moore, is the state treasurer and can run against Munchkin.

Manchin’s uncle A. James Manchin served as Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Statehouse for West Virginia. The gregarious functionary himself served as the governor, the secretary of state, and the state senate.

Now Capito is the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works committee and Manchin chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, allowing the state to punch well above its weight in the Senate. While Capito is rising into the Senate GOP and is expected to join the elected leadership next year, Manchin is serving on the Democratic leadership team and coming off 18 months of unparalleled leverage in what may be his toughest reelection campaign yet. could.

Manchin may be the Democrats’ last West Virginia senator in a generation, while Capito was the first GOP senator elected in his state since the 1950s. The relationship between Capito and Manchin is a lively topic of the 50-50 Senate – and this will put an end to it.

He led Senate GOP talks on an infrastructure bill with Biden, but a bipartisan group that included Manchin ended a deal on the final product with Capito’s backing. Then she was out the door for the first time with her permitting law, which Republicans say is much better than Munchkin.

On the other hand, it is clear that Capito’s bill by itself would not have the support of 10 Democrats; He had already voted for it as an amendment to the party-line bill he had helped craft. His measure would fall back on the Trump administration’s environmental regulations and lack provisions to help with the clean energy projects Manchin is adding to his bill.

“She’s so smart and knows there’s no way [her bill] A Democratic House would pass. There’s no way to turn the filibuster away and the President of the United States to sign it,” Sen said. Brian Schatzo (D-Hawaii). “It’s a Koch brothers wish list.”

If they manage to align on permitting, both Munchkin and Capito could make it back home after leaving their fingerprints on nearly every major bipartisan achievement to become law this year, from infrastructure to gun safety to semiconductor legislation. until.

But either way, their community is unlikely to be grounded for good.

Sen Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) compared Manchin and Capito’s relationship to his own with former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Both Blunt and McCaskill have a storied family history in show-me state politics, and they tried to isolate each other, even as partisan politics tested them.

“There is always a chance that something as a reduction in inflation act will impact careers if not both. And they may see some friction in that,” Blunt said. “My guess is that no matter what happens, 10 years from now, they will have a strong personal connection.”

Josh Siegel contributed to this report.

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