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The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Manchin makes permitting push as time ticks away for a deal

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

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In today's edition … The Jan. 6 committee returns on Wednesday … Trail Mix: Annie Linskey on why J.D. Vance wants to scrap sanctions on Russia … What we're watching: Unions on Capitol Hill and VP Harris in Asia … Matt Viser on how the Biden-Trump rematch, in many ways, has already begun … but first …

On the Hill

Manchin makes permitting push as time ticks away for a deal

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) is working hard to attach his energy permitting bill to a stopgap spending bill needed by week's end, and he's sharpening his message to Republicans who may withhold their support despite agreeing with his bill's overall goal: It's likely now or never.

In an interview with The Early 202 Sunday night, Manchin argued that Democratic support for energy project permitting reform is at its high-water mark and that it won't pass in the next Congress regardless of which party controls the Senate.

“We have never had an opportunity where we've had this many Democrats that would vote for permitting reform. Never. Never,” Manchin warned, adding that Democrats likely won't support it in the future.

Republicans have been pushing permitting reform for years, but were unable to enact it during the two years of the Trump administration when Republicans controlled the House and Senate because the party didn't have 60 votes in the Senate to pass it.

  • Republicans “know what they're dealing with,” Manchin said. “Hopefully, they'll come to that realization. It'll be a realistic moment they're gonna have to understand the practical situation.”

Manchin said he definitely has the support of at least 40 Democrats — “I'm hoping for 48, but 45 would be a very nice number,” he said — and that he remains “very optimistic” about his bill's chances. But he needs enough Republican support to push the overall vote tally to 60.

GOP stance

Getting the needed Republican support is a tall task.

A memo sent to Republican offices, provided to The Early, said that Manchin's bill does little to improve the permitting process for fossil fuels, saying it doesn't ease environmental law restrictions and includes “unenforceable deadlines” for projects. “In some cases, the Manchin language takes us backwards, not forwards,” the memo says.

  • But the GOP opposition to Manchin's proposal also has a whiff of schadenfreude, with many Republican lawmakers eager to deal the West Virginian a setback after he unexpectedly threw his support behind Democrats' signature health care, climate change and tax bill over the summer. Democratic leaders secured Manchin's support, in part, by promising to pass his permitting bill.

Several Republicans pointed to a blistering editorial in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, which outlines similar arguments to the GOP memo, calling Manchin's bill a “disappointment” because it “will benefit renewables but it creates new regulatory risks for fossil fuels.” 

Manchin said the WSJ editorial “is just not accurate whatsoever.” He wrote a response Sunday night in the WSJ making the case that this a “defining moment” and insisting his bill is full of “common-sense permitting reforms.” 

Tick, tick, tick …

The tense standoff over Manchin's bill is complicating efforts to pass a stopgap funding bill to keep the government open until after the midterm elections, when spending negotiations can continue.  

And time is tight. Congress is out today in observance of Rosh Hashanah. The Senate returns Tuesday (the House is back Wednesday) for an abbreviated, yet deadline-packed, week. Tuesday night the Senate will vote on a procedural motion to advance the stopgap bill known as a continuing resolution (CR).

Manchin spent the weekend on the phone with colleagues, according to a Manchin aide. One of the senators he attempted to reach was his Republican counterpart on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.). Barrasso said he needs to see the entire government funding bill before he makes a decision on how he'd vote.

  • “I have reservations about Manchin's proposal because it's really good for West Virginia and it's actually bad for Wyoming,” Barrasso told The Early on Sunday. He said it would allow the federal government to approve new electricity transmission lines in states regardless of the states' needs, which he opposes.

The bill would make it easier for West Virginia's Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas project to proceed, a huge priority for Manchin. It's also a priority for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who released her own permitting bill but announced last week that she'll support Manchin's proposal.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) came out against the bill because the Mountain Valley Pipeline would run through Virginia.

A group of eight Senate Democrats late last week sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) arguing Manchin's plan would disproportionately harm low-income areas and communities of color. They called for the permitting bill to be separated from the government funding measure, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the only signatory of the eight who has said he will vote against Manchin's bill.

The rest of the CR

The text of the funding bill is expected to be released today, according to a senior Democratic aide. In addition to extending current funding levels for more than two months, it will also include $12 billion for Ukraine; reauthorization of Food and Drug Administration user fees, which also expire Sept. 30; Afghan resettlement funding; winter heating help; and disaster funds, including money to help alleviate the water crisis in Jackson, Miss.

If the procedural vote fails Tuesday night, Schumer will have to figure out what can pass and strip out extraneous components to ensure the government doesn't shut down — something neither party wants six weeks before Election Day.

Happening this week: One more Jan. 6 hearing

Denver Riggleman, a former Republican congressman from Virginia who advised the House committee investigating Jan. 6, took to “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening ahead of the committee’s final public hearing on Wednesday.

The committee was not happy.

Riggleman discussed his new book about his work for the committee, “The Breach,” which will be released on Tuesday. “Lawmakers and committee staff were largely unaware that the former staffer had spent the months since leaving the committee writing a book about his limited work on staff — or that it would be published before the conclusion of the committee’s investigation, according to people familiar with the matter who, like others interviewed by The Washington Post, spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations,” our colleague Jacqueline Alemany reports.

CBS News made the most newsworthy revelation in the interview public in an except before the broadcast: that “the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter’s phone” while the Capitol was under attack, according to Riggleman.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Jan. 6 committee, said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that the committee was “aware” of the call but could not say anything specific about it.

Trail Mix

J.D. Vance says it’s time to get rid of sanctions on Russia

Annie Linskey has this week's tale from the trail: One question I’m curious about ahead of the midterms is how Republicans will approach foreign policy in 2023 if they win control of the legislative branch. The GOP retreated from internationalism toward isolationism during Donald Trump’s presidency, but this year Republicans on Capitol Hill have overwhelmingly supported efforts to fund and equip Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion.

Ohio offers a warning that President Biden shouldn’t count on this continuing next year. Retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is the co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and has been a leading champion for providing more lethal aid to Kyiv. But the GOP nominee in the race to replace him, J.D. Vance, expresses growing opposition to the U.S.-led sanctions on Russia.

  • At a campaign stop this month that was held — remarkably — in Russia, Ohio, Vance was asked by a voter if the United States should remove sanctions on Russia. “At this point, yeah, I think we should,” he said. “Yeah, absolutely.”

I was in Ohio not far from the event, but the Vance campaign told me it was closed to reporters. The Sidney Daily News, which was invited, kindly shared a tape.

Vance said at the event that the sanctions impact Europe more than the United States, but he said that wasn’t enough of a reason to keep them in place. “I'm not willing to make the American people suffer any more for what's going on 6,000 miles away,” he said.

Vance has opened a lead in the polls over Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who has supported the sanctions and funding for the government led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Around the time of the Russian invasion in February, Vance was heavily criticized for saying on Stephen K. Bannon’s podcast: “I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.” Five days later, he issued a lengthy statement that called Russian President Vladimir Putin “an evil man” and described Russia’s aggression as “unquestionably a tragedy.” Vance added: “Russia has earned sanctions, but whatever sanctions we apply will have little effect.”

The reason Vance backtracked seven months ago is because there are about 80,000 Ukrainian American voters in Ohio, out of an estimated 1.1 million Ukrainian Americans. The diaspora is disproportionately concentrated in the Midwest, especially around Cleveland. But he's backtracking no more.

  • Vance’s most recent comments on the sanctions are even more notable considering Russia is now facing significant battlefield losses and the sanctions are starting to take a severe toll.

Vance’s views are rooted in a self-described “America First” ideology that he’s adopted as he’s moved toward the MAGA wing of the Republican Party. “I have nothing against the Ukrainians. I really don’t,” Vance said at the event in Russia, Ohio. “But I also don’t think that we should destroy our country on behalf of one country that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with us.”

If he’s elected, put Vance down as a ‘nay’ on future aid for Ukraine.

You can follow all of Annie's work here and on Twitter here.

What we're watching

The Congressional Worker’s Union will announce the results today from last week’s historic union election in Rep. Andy Levin’s (D-Mich.) Hill and district offices.

Next steps: If a majority of staffers vote to form a union, they will begin negotiating a contract with Levin. Those negotiations will likely revolve around salary, promotion policies and paid and sick leave. If they succeed, they will form the first aide union in congressional history.

  • Coming soon to a bargaining table near you: Staffers from these Hill offices — who filed petitions to form unions with the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights in July — are next to hold union elections: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Jesús “Chuy” García (Ill.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Melanie Ann Stansbury (N.M.), Ro Khanna (Calif.) and Ted Lieu (Calif.).

Harris in Asia: Vice President Harris is in Tokyo today through Thursday for a series of bilateral meetings with foreign officials, including Prime Minister Kishida Fumio today and Prime Ministers Han Duck-Soo of South Korea and Anthony Albanese of Australia tomorrow.

Her highest-profile appearance will occur Tuesday when she leads the presidential delegation to the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The delegation includes U.S. ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai and several former U.S. ambassadors to Japan, including Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).

Harris will depart Tokyo for Seoul on Thursday where she will participate in a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. They are expected to discuss the growing threat from North Korea, which fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday ahead of Harris’s visit.

At the White House

The Biden-Trump rematch, in many ways, has already begun

All about the Biden-Trump rematch: “The country seems to be barreling toward a rematch [between Biden and former president Donald Trump] that few voters actually want, but that two presidents — one current, one former — cannot stop talking about,” our colleague Matt Viser writes. “Biden and Trump both say they are planning to make their decisions in the coming months, but with a lingering codependency between them, they each appear to be nudging the other into what would be a rare faceoff between the same two candidates four years apart.”

  • “In some sense, given the growing attacks, a 2024 grudge match is already underway. But it is less a heavyweight rematch that the country is eager to see and more of a rerun that few seem to be looking forward to. Neither Biden nor Trump is enthusiastically embraced by his own party, according to a Washington Post-ABC News survey released Sunday.”

The Media

Early reeeads


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