The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to start debate on a stopgap government funding bill without Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform language.
The stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution, would keep the government’s lights on through Dec. 16, and include $12.4 billion in aid for Ukraine against Russia, $4.5 billion for natural disaster assistance, $1 billion to help with heating homes this coming winter and $20 million to deal with the water crisis in Jackson, Miss., among other things.
The deadline to pass the measure and avert a government shutdown is Friday at midnight.
Passage of the bill 72-23 came after its biggest hurdle was removed less than an hour before the planned vote.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that he would heed Manchin’s wish to strip language that would have changed the approval process for energy infrastructure — and help greenlight the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline — from the bill.
The funding bill needed 60 votes to advance to debate and permitting reform had been opposed by Senate Republicans and House Democrats.
“Senate Republicans have made clear they will block legislation to fund the government if it includes bipartisan permitting reform, because they’ve chosen to obstruct instead of work in a bipartisan way to achieve something they’ve long claimed they want to do,” Schumer said in a floor speech, according to a transcript of his remarks. “Because American families should not be subjected to a Republican-manufactured government shutdown, Senator Manchin has requested, and I have agreed, to move forward and pass the recently-filed Continuing Resolution legislation without the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022.”
Manchin, in his own statement, declined to criticize either party tanking his legislation.
“It is unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk,” he said.
“A failed vote on something as critical as comprehensive permitting reform only serves to embolden leaders like Putin who wish to see America fail. For that reason and my firmly held belief that we should never come to the brink of a government shutdown over politics, I have asked Majority Leader Schumer to remove the permitting language from the Continuing Resolution we will vote on this evening,” he added.
Moments before his statement went out, Manchin told reporters that he expected at least 45 to 48 Senate Democrats to vote for the continuing resolution with the permitting reform language.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a leading opponent of the West Virginia centrist’s effort, told reporters during the vote that nixing the language marks “a good day for the climate and for the environment and a bad day for big oil and the fossil fuel industry.”
In addition to permitting reform, the package does not include money requested by Democrats to combat COVID-19 or Monkeypox. The effort to include COVID-19 funds was a tough climb that was all but closed off early last week after President Biden told “60 Minutes” that the pandemic is “over.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Monday in New Mexico that the House will put the spending bill on the floor by Thursday.
Aris Folley contributed.