West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin offered a lump of coal to his fellow Democrats after he demanded $150 billion in clean-energy initiatives be removed from a budget bill currently making its way through the Senate.
Senate sources confirmed to The Post that Manchin was “dug in” on climate issues.
“As a path forward there are two choices, compromise in some form or fashion or eliminate the climate aspect from reconciliation and work on it thereafter,” said one senior insider in the chamber.
Manchin has already expressed cost reservations about the $3.5 trillion budget package currently pending in the Senate. The $150 billion earmarked for climate initiatives would be used to convert coal and gas-fired plants to ones that operate with cleaner tech like wind, solar and nuclear.
Manchin has also made it known that he is opposed to a provision in the bill known as the Clean Electricity Performance Program, which rewards utilities that up their clean-energy supply — and punish those who don’t, the Washington Post reported.
“We don’t comment on the state of our negotiations with the wide array of Senators offering views about the Build Back Better agenda,” a White House spokesman told The Post Saturday. “The White House is laser-focused on advancing the President’s climate goals and positioning the United States to meet its emission targets in a way that grows domestic industries and good jobs.”
Coal has long been one of the most prominent industries in West Virginia and the state has drifted increasingly Republican as the left becomes more hostile to fossil fuels. Manchin is one of the last major Democrats to hold office there. In the 2020 presidential election former President Trump won more than 68% of the vote there.
Liberals reacted with fury over the issue.
“Joe Manchin, who owns stock in a coal brokerage company, is trying to kill legislation to replace coal-fired power plants with clean energy. I’m shocked! Absolutely shocked!,” said former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich in a tweet.
Manchin’s posture threatens to blow up the giant budget deal. With a 50-50 Senate, President Biden cannot lose a single vote for any piece of legislation. The bill is making use of the budget reconciliation process to skirt the ability of Republicans to mount a filibuster.
“Everything is still under negotiations,” the Senate insider said. “This piece is just one piece of many different disagreements.