Over the weekend, Democratic leadership once again attempted to rally support for Senator Joe Manchin’s Big Oil permitting bill. Leadership had attempted earlier this fall to attach the “side deal” to the government omnibus spending bill but Republican senators refused to give Manchin a win he could use to help his re-election in 2024. This time around leadership sought to attach the bill to the Water Resources Development Act and then attach that to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The NDAA is seen as a must-pass bill and Democratic leadership had hoped to force Republicans to vote for it given their strong support for military spending. Fortunately, grassroots activists put the pressure on elected officials to reject the deal. Many lawmakers including Michigan’s own Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke to the harm the bill would cause and leadership was forced to leave the bill off of the defense deal.
This huge victory is a win for frontline communities impacted by fossil fuel extraction, and speaks to the power grassroots activism can achieve. The Manchin deal is dead for now, however, Republicans may attempt to pass an even worse permitting bill in the next Congress. That will be a tall task as Democratic leadership will be under no obligation to pass a Republican bill. While we are normally frustrated with gridlock in Congress, this is one time we sure are glad they couldn’t get their act together.