Manchin and Capito hit a pothole on country roads

“They have a working relationship like most of us. Being on either side of the parties, I’m sure it gets tense from time to time,” Sen said. rounds of mike (RS.D.).

Democratic centrist Manchin and deal-seeking Republican Capito share a desire to accelerate the construction of massive energy projects. But under political pressure, they differ on the details. Capito has his own bill that would weaken some environmental regulations and has broad GOP support. Manchin calls it a “courier bill” because he can’t convince Democrats and is rushing to finalize a bill that would help renewable and fossil energy projects.

Their partnership, and the duress it is currently under, is causing much intrigue in the Senate clubby as well as within the mountain state homecoming presswhere a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline would benefit from progress.

Above all that, Manchin’s potential re-election in 2024 in deep red West Virginia and the climate, tax and healthcare package he negotiated with the Senate Majority Leader chuck schumer (DN.Y.). As part of that deal, Schumer and President Joe Biden agreed to back legislation accelerating the review of massive energy projects, but now that push is in doubt thanks to Republican opposition in the Senate — and because his text won’t be public until Wednesday.

After Manchin expressed hope last week that Capito would help build Republican support, she said she felt “it’s my job to provide support for something that I didn’t participate in and that I still don’t know what it is.” She declined to comment this week on the details of her permission bill, saying instead she needed to see it first.

And in a mark of their unique relationship between the aisles, she said of Manchin: “We are friends. We have known each other forever. »

He admitted that “we disagree” on the details of the clearance policy: “I understand that and I respect it,” Manchin said, describing their relationship as deeper than an energy dispute.

“My friendship with her, her family and my family, is unconditional. They can’t force that,” Manchin said. Moore Capito. In any situation.”

Manchin has secured Schumer’s buy-in to put his permit proposal on this fall’s must-have government funding bill — except he needs at least 10 Republicans to avoid a filibuster. And Capito should almost certainly be part of that effort, except she’s frustrated to be tasked with closing a deal she wasn’t a part of.

“She’s been patient with Joe, but that’s a step too far,” one GOP senator said, summing up Capito’s view.

“Joe looks like he’s desperately throwing a lifeline and hopes she’ll grab it,” the Senate Minority Whip said. John Thune (RS.D.). “He and Schumer made this deal. I think it’s unfair, what he’s trying to do, to try to put Shelley in a corner.

Manchin’s fellow Democrats don’t blame him for leaning on his connection to Capito to push his legislation across the finish line. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who worked with the two West Virginians, said: “I would do the same if I had the kind of relationship he has with Capito.”

Indeed, the Manchins and Moores are as deep as a seam of coal in West Virginia. Capito’s father, Arch Moore, served as governor for 12 years; his son Moore Capito serves in the state legislature; his nephew, Riley Moore, is the state treasurer and could run against Manchin.

Manchin’s uncle, A. James Manchin, served as Secretary of State, Treasurer, and State House of West Virginia. The titular gregarious himself served as governor, secretary of state, and in the state senate.

Now Capito is the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee and Manchin chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, allowing the state to punch well above its weight in the Senate. While Capito rises in the Senate GOP and is expected to join the elected leadership next year, with Manchin on the Democratic leadership team emerging from 18 months of unprecedented leverage as he enters this which could be his toughest re-election campaign yet.

Manchin could be the last Democratic senator from West Virginia in a generation, while Capito was the first GOP senator elected from his state since the 1950s. The connection between Capito and Manchin is a animating theme of Senate 50-50 – and he will survive.

She led Senate GOP negotiations on an infrastructure bill with Biden, but a bipartisan group that included Manchin eventually struck a deal on the final product, with Capito’s backing. Then she was first out with her licensing legislation, which Republicans say is vastly superior to Manchin’s.

On the other hand, it is clear that Capito’s bill alone would not have the support of 10 Democrats; they have already voted it down as an amendment to the party line bill he helped craft. His measure would fall under the Trump administration’s environmental regulations and lack provisions to help clean energy projects that Manchin is adding to his bill.

“She’s very smart and knows there’s no way [her bill] would pass a House Democrat. There’s no way to get over a filibuster and there’s no way the President of the United States will sign him,” the senator said. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “It’s a wish list from the Koch brothers.”

If they can line up on clearance, Manchin and Capito could both brag about it at home after leaving their fingerprints on nearly every major bipartisan achievement that has become law this year, from infrastructure to gun safety to semiconductor legislation.

But either way, their courtesy is unlikely to fray for good.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) compared Manchin and Capito’s connection to his own with former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Blunt and McCaskill both have long family histories in Show-Me State politics, and they tried to fire each other even as partisan politics tested them.

“There’s always a chance that something as big as the Cut Inflation Act will impact the career of one, if not both of them.” And they can see friction in that,” Blunt said. “I guess whatever happens, in 10 years they will have a solid personal relationship.”

Josh Siegel contributed to this report.

Toya J. Bell