Sen. Joe Manchin, the maverick Democrat from West Virginia who drives a Maserati, must be feeling the effects of the current barrage of insults. Democrats, climate scientists, proponents of climate action, and the rest of the chattering classes are criticizing him for his most recent rejection of President Biden’s strategy to combat global warming.
The majority of a year has been squandered attempting to reach an agreement with Manchin on Biden’s Build Back Better plan, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). It looked until a few days ago that Manchin had finally decided to support a version that had been severely cut at his request. Manchin has since stated that he will not support the plan if it includes additional funding for the battle against climate change.
Recap: There are 50 seats in the Senate, 50 each for Republicans and Democrats. Votes that are tied can be broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, who chairs the upper chamber. This gives Democrats the majority if all 50 senators vote in agreement.
Manchin has positioned himself as the Democrats’ swing vote, able to make or break both the climate-action pledges that helped Biden win the president and his party’s success in Congress, thanks to his contrarian stance.
Manchin agrees to back his party’s legislation on the environment and other concerns but later retracts his support. His erratic behavior is particularly concerning in view of a recent Supreme Court decision. On climate change, Congress has been deadlocked for years.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s restrictions on greenhouse gas pollution have served as a backup (EPA). But the court determined that the EPA lacks express jurisdiction to control emissions unless Congress grants them such authority. That seems unlikely given Manchin’s vacillation and the resistance from the Republic.
Manchin’s flip-flops have repercussions that reach across the globe and well into the future. More than 200 years of pollution that has changed the climate can be attributed to the US. Next to all-out nuclear war, we continue to be the second-largest source of the gases that pose the greatest threat to civilization.
Manchin is certainly a contributing factor to the president’s low approval rating and the public’s belief that Democrats in Congress, even when in the majority, are unable to pass legislation because they are blocking Biden from upholding America’s commitment to the world and his pledges to voters.
Manchin Is Not Alone Himself.
With the exception of Joe Manchin, the Republican Party and its representatives in Congress have been united for decades in their denial of climate change’s existence, undermining the public’s trust in climate science, and obstruction of climate legislation. They effectively stopped earlier attempts to address climate change, even with market-based strategies, by filibustering the Build Back Better bill.
States have aided in filling the hole in federal leadership over the years. However, it is improbable that the United States will be able to fulfill its commitments to the world community, and without the United States government, the international community will be able to fulfill its obligations to future generations.
Manchin’s Apparent Disagreement
As the decisive swing vote in the Senate, it would be one thing if Manchin had the best interests of the United States in mind, but there is no more egregious case of a congressman with a conflict of interest.
He is the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is particularly significant given the climate issue. His objectivity is questionable, though. The second-largest coal producer in the nation and one of the states with the greatest oil and gas production rates in West Virginia.
The expansion of the coal industry is also in Manchin’s own financial interest. From 2010 to 2020, a coal mining and support company paid him $5.6 million. According to the New York Times, he collected about $492,000 from the business in just 2020, which is nearly three times his Senate salary.
Despite not being up for reelection for three more years, he has received more campaign funding from the oil, gas, mining, and coal industries than any other member of Congress, totaling more than $1 million so far in 2021–2022.
Manchin has exhausted the legislative clock with his backtracking on the Build Back Better legislation in light of the upcoming midterm elections and the August recess. He will have succeeded in delaying the country’s switch to clean energy if he keeps the Senate in a state of climate uncertainty and Republicans win in November.
Schumer’s time may have been better spent on the other side of the aisle, one wonders. A bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus has been in existence since 2019 and includes a number of Senate Republicans who “argue for Congress to play a central role in tackling the (climate) challenge.”
The Caucus website states, “We acknowledge the necessity of American leadership in tackling our changing climate. Democrats and Republicans must cooperate, make concessions, and find common ground.
Republicans Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Rob Portman are all members of the caucus (R-Ohio). Would they have been open to negotiating a climate change law separately from Build Back Better’s other components?
Or are they only trying to appear more environmentally friendly to the 58 percent of Americans who believe that the federal government isn’t doing enough to address this issue?
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