Joe Manchin still seeks climate and energy deal, but colleagues say it’s a pipe dream

A bipartisan coalition led by Senator Joe Manchin III emerged from a closed-door meeting on Wednesday night saying they were moving towards agreement on an energy and climate package.

The optimism, however, was confined to those in the room.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers told The Washington Times they still have great doubts that a viable bill will materialize, saying such a feat is nearly impossible in the extremely polarized Congress just months before the midterm elections.

“I have very little confidence,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist who caucus with Democrats. “I don’t think there are many Republicans — along with Manchin — who are serious about solving the existential crisis we face in terms of climate.”

Another far-left champion, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, said she had a “great dose of skepticism” about Mr. Manchin’s efforts.

So did Sen. Patrick Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania who has played a major role in brokering bipartisan deals in the past.

“I’m deeply skeptical that we could come up with something that would make sense and that I could support,” said Mr. Toomey, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Negotiators have a tough tightrope to walk: appease Democrats who want sweeping measures to cut climate-altering emissions and offset the costs enough to convince at least 10 Senate Republicans to bust a filibuster.

Republican and Democratic leaders have yet to engage in bipartisan talks due to cynicism that a deal will emerge. Nevertheless, Mr. Manchin and his group are there to prove them wrong.

The group’s meeting on Wednesday was their third in the past two weeks, with 10 Democrats and five Republicans involved in the talks.

Their ultimate goal is to find a compromise to meet the country’s energy and climate needs in the wake of the Biden administration’s failed environmental agenda and a supply crisis that has caused oil prices to spike. ‘energy.

Still, Mr. Manchin and his group are about the only ones on Capitol Hill holding their breath for a groundbreaking deal, which they say is likely to come within the next month. So far, lawmakers have focused on broad ideas that could have bipartisan appeal.

“We will try to ensure that we have energy independence for our country,” Manchin said after the meeting. “We are looking at everything we can.”

The latest meeting focused on how to use energy- and climate-related tax credits that were proposed in previous unsuccessful legislation to cut global warming emissions cost-effectively, according to several lawmakers in attendance who are then interviewed by journalists. Options included grants for things like carbon-reducing technologies such as electric vehicles and efficient buildings, in addition to carbon capture.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, said the long list of tax proposals they considered “looks like what Santa Claus would look at.”

In previous meetings, lawmakers have discussed topics such as the Carbon Border Adjustment, a trade policy that levies environmental taxes on imports from other countries; increasing the production and processing of critical minerals often used for clean energy like electric vehicle batteries, and reforming the landmark environmental law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that requires federal agencies to review d first the environmental ramifications of the projects.

Republicans are particularly eyeing NEPA allowing reform to cut red tape for energy projects — clean energy and fossil fuels — to receive faster approval.

Regardless of bipartisan talks, Democrats also want to include climate finance in an expedited budget process called reconciliation that can pass if all Senate Democrats support it. Mr. Manchin said all options were on the table, but his rejection of Mr. Biden’s $1.7 trillion climate and social spending plan just a few months ago is still fresh in the minds of his fellow Democrats.

The bipartisan avenue is perhaps the party’s best and only chance to advance any climate policy, despite its control over Washington. Republicans involved in the talks have tried to reassure that the GOP is interested in tackling environmental issues.

“Each meeting makes me feel a little more like we could get there, that something could be done,” Cramer said.