Senate Democratic Leader Refuses to Help Oil and Gas Industry in Private Deals

Senate Democratic Leader Refuses to Help Oil and Gas Industry in Private Deals

After bipartisan rebuff, Manchin abandons private legislative deal to help fossil fuel projects

By Robert J. Samuelson

November 21, 2017

Senate Democratic leader Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday evening abandoned an effort to help the fossil fuel industry, and the Republican Party, in two private legislative deals that he negotiated when he chaired the Appropriations Committee, one of the Senate’s most influential divisions.

Instead of moving to help the oil and gas industry in a pair of private agreements with the GOP-controlled and Republican-allied state of West Virginia, Manchin said he would instead support President Trump’s climate policies and his Environmental Protection Agency, and, as chair of the Appropriations Committee, to oppose the Democratic bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The decision capped a week in which Manchin publicly refused to join his party in a compromise to help the oil and gas industry after he tried to do the very thing he said he would for private industry after the GOP and West Virginia Republican-controlled Legislature’s failed attempt to repeal, defund, or suspend the Affordable Care Act.

“Today,” he wrote in a letter to a Republican colleague, “I will work to make life better for our families by supporting the president’s efforts to put Americans first.”

On Friday, the Senate voted 63 to 37 to move on the Affordable Care Act repeal bill, with Manchin voting against the measure, but he was able to convince the two dozen Republicans who support the GOP bill to vote with him.

In the wake of that vote, Manchin said he had been in constant discussion with four senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — on how to help the oil and gas industry. Those talks had been progressing since early fall, when Manchin was negotiating with Republican Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on a bipartisan legislative deal to help the industry in a state Republicans now control, and with a group of about 30 senators.

The four Republicans who supported Manchin’s initial effort on Capitol Hill — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Jeff Flake of Arizona — all voted to move to passage of the repeal bill, and Collins became Manchin’s chief Senate advocate on the issue.

However, on Monday, there was no sign that Manchin had any deal

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