Art of the deal, Wimpy style

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin signed off on the absurdly named Inflation Reduction Act in lieu of the full Build Back Broke bill that represented the left’s shopping list. Manchin was reported to have signed off on the bill with a Wimpy deal that recalled Popeye’s friend Wimpy. Wimpy adopted the motto “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Not a good deal. It was a recurring joke that even kids could understand.

Joe Manchin took Wimpy’s deal. He exchanged his vote on the IRA tax-and-climate bill delivering 87,000 IRS agents and all the rest in exchange for the liberalization of environmental permitting reform next Tuesday.

Manchin issued a statement at the time of the deal asserting that Schumer et al. were “committed to advancing a suite of common sense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies.”

Will Tuesday ever come? Three reporters at The Hill take up the question in “Schumer in tough spot over Manchin promise.” They report that Schumer intends to add a provision to the continuing resolution necessary to fund the government this fall, but there are a few wrinkles:

[Schumer’s] plan is running into opposition from progressive House Democrats and outside environmental groups. There’s also a chance that several Senate Democrats may balk at the deal with Manchin, now that they no longer need his vote to pass a budget reconciliation bill.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s (D-Ariz.) office told The Hill on Wednesday that 50 lawmakers had signed onto his letter calling for a separate vote on the permitting reform provisions instead of putting them in the continuing resolution.

Attaching it to a short-term government funding measure would force House progressives to choose between voting no and possibly forcing a shutdown or voting yes and making it easier to develop new energy projects that would burn fossil fuels and pump more carbon into the atmosphere.

Many environmental groups are also up in arms over the deal.

More than 650 such organizations sent a letter to Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressing their opposition last month.

“This fossil fuel wish list is a cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities and the climate. This legislation would truncate and hollow-out the environmental review process, weaken Tribal consultations, and make it far harder for frontline communities to have their voices heard by gutting bedrock protections in the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act,” they wrote.

Some Senate Democrats also said they couldn’t say whether they would support a short-term government funding bill that includes permitting reform until they review the details of the bill.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said he wants to know what the net impact on carbon emissions will be from passing both the Inflation Reduction Act and the permitting reform package.

“‘Are we helping to solve the climate problem?’ is the question,” Whitehouse said. “I don’t even know what the permitting reform is.”

Maybe Manchin can explain “permitting reform” to Whitehouse. We could all learn from it, and not just about “permitting reform.” Questions implicit in the story include (a) whether his colleagues in Congress will prove Manchin a fool, (b) whether Manchin cares, and (c) whether it is wrong to pull for them all to go to hell.

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