“You would be surprised at the number of senators who have given us input. And so we’re trying to take each of those suggestions very seriously,” Collins said. “All of that takes more time and as we try to build the number of senators we need.”
Never mind that the language in the bill explicitly limits it protections to “a marriage between 2 individuals.” Never mind that it says absolutely nothing about who is doing the marriage officiating—it’s about what happens after the wedding, making sure that spouses can visit each other in the hospital, inherit when one of them dies, receive Social Security survivor benefits, boring and absolutely essential life stuff like that. But sure, keep stringing along the Senate for Utah Republicans Mike Lee, who’s not going to vote for the bill in the end, anyway.
The final text of the bill should be released Thursday, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could file for a cloture vote as well, setting up a Monday vote where we could find out just how effective Collins has been in recruiting Republicans and whether letting her drag this out for weeks has been a worthwhile effort for Democrats. At least it looks like the vote is finally going to happen, and we will find out the depth of Republican bigotry.
Meanwhile, the House is scheduled to have just eight more legislative days before leaving until the election, eight legislative days in which government has to be funded. A primary holdup in getting that done for the majority Democrats is the deal Schumer made with Joe Manchin to water down the federal permitting process for energy projects, and the intent by Schumer to include that agreement in the must-pass government funding bill. House Democrats are not at all pleased that Schumer is forcing an agreement he made on his own, with no consultation with the House, is being forced on them.
There are now 87 House Democrats, including eight committee chairs and eight appropriators, who’ve signed on to a letter from House Natural Resources Chair Raúl M. Grijalva to oppose having the permitting bill included in the continuing resolution to fund the government. He’s requested a meeting with Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to stop what appears to be a Schumer steamroller. On Tuesday, Schumer vowed it would be in the spending bill and that “it will pass.”
That’s some bluster, considering Republicans are lining up behind an alternative bill, and there might not be 10 of them willing to help Manchin out on this, not after he (in their minds) betrayed them and helped Democrats pass the massive climate, health, and tax reform Inflation Reduction Act in August. It’s also some bluster since Manchin’s bill hasn’t seen the light of day yet.
“The bigger problem is whether there’s 60 votes over there,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) told Roll Call. “What the hell is this thing even? We haven’t seen text… I think the plays by the Republicans and maybe some of the difficulties on their side are why we haven’t seen text.”
That said, Grijalva and other Democrats are willing to negotiate with Manchin to do a bill they call all agree on, one that also makes sure that renewable, clean energy gets the same streamlining permitting processes and advantages Manchin is trying to secure for dirty energy projects.
“If we just want to pass a clean CR ’til December and wait ’til December to negotiate or just try to find [common] ground on this permitting reform,” Grijalva said, he would agree. “Permitting reform to me also means truly staffing the agencies responsible, fully staffing NEPA and not undermining it and doing something about overburdened communities that would become more burdened because of this.”
Next week should bring more clarity on both fronts. It has to. There isn’t much more time for playing games with Susan Collins and Joe Manchin.