* Update * No surprise, climate-denying coal baron Joe Manchin has blocked progress on President Biden’s agenda, again. The Announcement was shocking too many not because Manchin changed his position, but because he announced it on Fox news, and broke a promise he’d made explicitly and in-person to the President and party leadership.
As House Progressive leader Rep Pramila Jayapal wrote over the holiday weekend, we can’t let Manchin’s broken promises block our work to Build Back Better or #BuildbackFossilFree. But it also raises the question of accountability, again. What price should Manchin pay for lying to President Biden’s face and betraying the trust of every other elected Democrat with whom he negotiated in bad faith? At a minimum, it seems to us, he should be reprimanded and demoted inside the power structure of the Democratic Party. After all, you or I would ever be rewarded with perks and leadership positions for lying to our boss & co-workers – so why is Joe Manchin still chair of the Senate Energy Commitee?
We’ve reopened out petition with partners, and are working on a plan to deliver your (more than 130,000!) signatures as soon as the Senate reconvenes in January. Can you sign and share this petition one more time before the end of the year, and chip in if you can so we can make the “Manchin accountability Project” one of our 198 actions next year?
The original post follows with more context and footnotes on Manchin’s long running list of climate-denial and Democracy betrayal.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is blocking progress on all the climate legislation we desperately need. He’s already being rewarded with millions of dollars from coal companies, Republican Donors, and corporations that profiteer off climate chaos.
But what’s more infuriating, and completely unacceptable, is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is rewarding Manchin by giving him the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee. It’s a post Manchin uses all the time to force concessions from Biden, climate leaders in the Senate like Bernie Sanders, and leaders Schumer himself.
This is worse than negotiating with a (political) hostage taker — it’s rewarding him with a position of power and authority. Tell Leader Schumer A climate-denying coal baron can’t control energy policy!
Biden promised to be a climate president when he ran for election. We’ve been pushing him hard on executive actions he can take, but some things — like requiring the US electric sector to shift to renewable resources, or making new fossil fuel infrastructure projects account for their total climate and environmental justice impacts — will require new or different laws be enacted by Congress. And we’ve seen vividly how One Senator, like Joe Manchin can hold up debate on basically good ideas like Biden’s Build Back Better Act.
Now that the US House has passed the Build Back Better Act, we need to isolate Joe Manchin, and reduce his power to derail climate progress. Schumer can do that right away by taking away his gavel and making it clear that when it comes to climate and energy policy, Joe Manchin is not the leader of Senate Democrats.
Manchin’s motivations are clear: he owns millions of dollars in coal stocks and more money each year in coal dividends than he does from his job as US Senator. So, it should be no surprise Manchin said earlier this year that the goal of eliminating fossil fuels is “very, very disturbing” and attacked environmentalists for daring to challenge him on climate change. This week, there’s news that he’s actually using his opposition to Biden’s climate agenda to millions from Republican donors.
But here’s the crazy part: instead of marginalizing Manchin, as the most corrupt, climate-denying Senator in the Caucus, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer actually promoted Manchin to chair of the Senate Energy committee. You might remember that we actually protested the decision to elevate Manchin back in 2017 with a sit in outside Schumer’s office.
Now, here we are. As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Manchin is responsible for regulating the fossil fuel industry and has enormous power over hearings on key climate policy issues, developing bill proposals, and reporting legislative recommendations to the full Senate chamber. But just like Schumer raised Manchin up, he can decide to take him down a peg. The leader of the Democratic party can demote his party’s committee chairs at any time – and that’s what we’re asking Schumer to do.
Obviously, we can’t expect a climate-denying coal baron to help deliver on President Biden’s promises on climate change and fossil fuels. Given Manchin’s deep ties to the coal industry and personal conflict of interests, he cannot continue to lead Senate Democrats’ climate policy and must be immediately replaced as Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.