- Sen. Joe Manchin could block a key aspect of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
- Biden staffers are removing a clean electricity program from a bill because of Manchin, reports say.
- Manchin, who represents West Virginia, has close ties to the fossil fuel industry.
President Joe Biden’s clean electricity program will likely be scrapped from the Democrat’s reconciliation bill because of Sen. Joe Manchin, according to reports from The New York Times and CNN published Friday.
Three sources told The Times that Biden staffers are removing the program from the legislation after the Democratic senator told the White House he strongly opposed it. The program would have encouraged oil- and gas-fired power plants to transition to renewables like wind, solar, and nuclear.
Manchin, who represents the coal state of West Virginia, has made millions off the fossil fuel industry.
He owns a $US5 ($AU7) million stake in Enersystems, a private coal brokerage he founded in 1988 that is now run by his son, The Guardian reported earlier this year. Manchin raked in $US500,000 ($AU673,783) from the company in 2020 alone. According to Senate disclosure forms, he has made more than $US5 ($AU7) million in dividends from 2011 to 2020, Salon reported.
Manchin has also received nearly $US65,000 ($AU87,592) in campaign funding from political action committees and lobbyists associated with oil and gas giant Exxon.
The clean electricity program in the reconciliation bill amounted to $US150 ($AU202) billion, according to The Times, and would provide benefits to power companies that replaced fossil fuels with renewable energy. It would also penalize companies that didn’t make the switch.
Leah Stokes, a climate policy expert advising Senate Democrats, told the outlet the program is “the most important climate policy in the package.”
“We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality. And now we can’t. So this is pretty sad,” she said.
In a statement to The Times, a Manchin spokesperson said: “Senator Manchin has clearly expressed his concerns about using taxpayer dollars to pay private companies to do things they’re already doing. He continues to support efforts to combat climate change while protecting American energy independence and ensuring our energy reliability.”
One Democratic aide told CNN that they are working on tweaking the program to satisfy Manchin, but that they do not believe whatever they end up with in the bill will resemble the originally proposed program.
The social spending bill, which Democrats are trying to pass through reconciliation without any Republican support, would need the support of every Democrat in the Senate.
Biden said on Friday that Congressional Democrats will not get the $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion social spending bill they had hoped for, adding that the bill would need to be cut in order to pass.