Sanders leads progressive revolt against Manchin-backed ‘side deal’ for government funding bill

Democratic congressional leaders face a progressive revolt — which could potentially lead to a government shutdown — following the closed-door deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the West Virginia senator , Joe Manchin, who secured the latter’s crucial support for inflation. Reduction Act.

After repeatedly criticizing this “disastrous side deal” that would streamline the licensing process for energy projects across the United States – which Schumer agreed to include in a must-have spending bill to fund the federal government – Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., quickly announced Thursday that he intended to oppose the funding resolution as a result.

“If the United States Congress publicly says, ‘Yes, we’re going to support more fossil fuel reduction, more carbon emissions,’ the signal we’re sending to our own people and to the planet is a terrible signal, terrible,” Sanders said in a speech on the floor.

He didn’t mince words with reporters afterwards. When asked if he would vote no on government funding if the Schumer-Manchin permit deal was attached, he replied, “Yes. You’re talking about the future of the planet.”

Sanders’ opposition adds to growing progressive pressure in the House, where some left-leaning lawmakers have also threatened to block the government funding bill if it includes Manchin’s desired changes to energy permits.

On Thursday, Sanders read a soon-to-be-released letter — obtained by ABC News on Wednesday — that he said was signed by “at least 59” House progressives opposed to the Schumer-Manchin deal.

This agreement, Sanders said, quoting the letter, “would silence the voices of environmental communities by protecting them from scrutiny. It would force members to choose between protecting environmental justice communities from further pollution or funding the government. We urge you to ensure that these provisions are kept out of any continuing resolution or other legislation to be passed this year.”

Senator Joe Manchin looks on as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after U.S. President Joe Biden signs the Cut Inflation Act into law in the State Dining Room of the White House on August 16, 2022 in Washington , DC.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Manchin argued that permit reform will also help accelerate projects related to wind, solar and other environmentally friendly energy sources. He is adamant that authorization for reform must remain in the funding bill and so far he appears to have Schumer’s support.

Despite the thundering progressive rhetoric, it’s possible the bill to fund the government — which will also include popular aid to Ukraine and disaster relief — will garner enough GOP support to render moot. the liberal blockade threatened.

“It was a political rank deal,” Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the appropriations committee, told reporters on Thursday of Manchin and Schumer’s deal. But he refrained from saying it would jeopardize government funding.

Still, some other Republicans are vowing to oppose the funding resolution because they oppose Schumer and Manchin’s deal. Many conservatives said they took offense to the last-minute nature of the deal between Democrats on sweeping climate and health care reform legislation known as the IRA. It passed without a single GOP vote — shortly after some Republicans voted with Democrats on funding computer chips, thinking the Democrats’ welfare spending bill was dead.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., told ABC that “I would vote against,” referring to government funding, and he said he urged fellow Republicans to do the same.

It’s not yet clear whether Republicans will unite behind Graham’s effort, but most GOP aides familiar with the issue say they don’t expect that.

ABC News’ Mariam Khan contributed to this report.

ABC News

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