The Senate is set to hold a test vote Tuesday regarding a crucial, government shutdown-avoiding spending package, but a provision included to appease Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is threatening to derail the entire effort.
The stopgap bill (also known as a continuing resolution) currently on the table would extend federal funding through Dec. 16 — allowing Congress to punt major spending negotiations until after the midterms — and lawmakers have until Friday at midnight to pass it. The only real problem? Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) privately promised Manchin he'd include a permit reform measure in exchange for Manchin's vote on the party's recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, and Republicans, hesitant to reward their West Virginia colleague, are now balking in response. Their support, however, is key — the funding bill will need 60 votes to advance, meaning Democrats are unable to go it alone.
The proposed permit reform would "expedite the permitting and environmental review process for energy projects," notably "including a major pipeline that would cross through Manchin's home state of West Virginia," CNN writes. But Republicans — and even some Democrats, like Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) — aren't excited about its inclusion: "We have made significant progress toward a continuing resolution that is as clean as possible. But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Other pieces of the spending bill, including billions in aid for Ukraine, have otherwise "appeared to generate little opposition," The New York Times reports.
Unless Tuesday's procedural vote goes well, CNN notes, it's possible Democrats "strip out the permitting proposal and advance a funding extension without it." Lest we forget, midterms are right around the corner, and neither party wants to bear responsibility for a shutdown.