Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) announced Tuesday morning that he will vote against a motion to begin debate on Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform bill, dealing a blow to Manchin’s hopes of passing the measure.
Kaine said he will vote against a motion to proceed to a legislative vehicle that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to use to advance a short-term government funding measure and Manchin’s permitting reform legislation.
Kaine is opposing Manchin’s bill because it would approve completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, 100 miles of which runs through Virginia, and shift jurisdiction over legal challenges to the project from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to the D.C. Circuit.
“I strongly oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline provision of this legislation, which would greenlight this pipeline without normal administrative and judicial review and ignore the voices of Virginians,” Kaine said in a statement.
He noted the pipeline would seize property from private landowners and that he was not consulted on the bill’s language or given a chance to share his constituents “deep concerns” over the project.
He also criticized the bill for it removing the 4th Circuit from the legal battle over the pipeline.
“If the MVP owners are unhappy with a court ruling, they should do what other litigants do and appeal. Allowing them to fundamentally change federal law to achieve their goal would surely encourage other wealthy people and companies to try the same. I won’t participate in opening that door to abuse and even corruption,” Kaine said.
Kaine issued his statement a few days after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter urging senators to vote against the combined funding resolution and permitting reform package.
Kaine’s opposition to beginning debate on the House “shell” bill, which is being viewed as a test vote for Manchin’s permitting reform, could open the door for other Democratic defections.
Schumer agreed to attach Manchin’s bill to the end-of-September continuing resolution as part of a deal to secure the centrist senator’s vote for the Inflation Reduction Act in August.
That bill established a 15 percent corporate minimum tax, provided $369 billion to combat climate change and gave Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, accomplishing several of President Biden’s top priorities.
The deal with Schumer infuriated Republicans, so Manchin’s permitting bill is not expected to secure the dozen or so GOP votes it needs to overcome a filibuster.
Senate Republican leadership, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is urging their GOP colleagues not to support Manchin’s bill, which means he has a slim chance of mustering enough Republican support.
Manchin suffered a setback Monday night when Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and a McConnell ally, announced he would vote against the stop-gap spending measure unveiled by his own panel because it includes Manchin’s permitting reform.
“We have made significant progress toward a Continuing Resolution that is as clean as possible. But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it,” Shelby announced Monday.