GOP Hits Back at Manchin For Supporting Inflation Reduction Act

Senator Joe Manchin (WV)

In a surprising turn, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin supported the $739 billion “Inflation Reduction Act,” a bill t pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into low-carbon technologies.

But the GOP views the passage of this bill as a massive blow, and is looking to kick Manchin out of the Senate in 2024. Former President Donald Trump told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “I’ll go down and campaign against him as hard as anybody can,” to a round of applause. Meanwhile, the coal sector, a huge industry in West Virginia and historically an ally to the Manchin campaign, has soured on him because of his vote in favor of the bill. The West Virginia Coal Association wrote, in an open letter: “This legislation is so egregious, it leaves those of us that call Sen. Manchin a friend, shocked and disheartened.”

Why this Matters

Manchin has reflected the politics of his very red, pro-Trump state when it comes to the issue of coal, and his support of the Inflation Reduction Act demonstrates an unprecedented willingness to strike a balance between short term politics and the future of the clean energy industries which scare big interests in his state. In return for his vote on the bill, Senate Democrats have allowed a separate vote on other legislation that would expedite approvals for energy infrastructure projects. This includes a vote on on the controversial natural gas pipeline set to run through West Virginia and the “Willow Project” in the Arctic, both of which could get more support as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The GOP’s unwillingness to compromise on even incremental steps towards carbon reduction is stunning; without a single Republican vote, passage of The Inflation Reduction Act amounts to the most ambitious climate bill in United States history.

Looking Forward

Manchin hasn’t officially agreed to run for reelection in 2024, but it’s likely that he will.  He’s likely the last Democrat to ever be elected to the Senate from this once-overwhelmingly Democratic state. Experts suggest that his support of the Inflation Reduction Act will hurt his chances of reelection.

“He has a tough race, no doubt about it,” John Kilwein, a political science professor at West Virginia University, told E&E News, especially since the last time he won he was running against Patrick Morrisey, an unpopular candidate. “I think the Republicans are taking their time, and I think they’re going to pick a pretty strong candidate. And it’s going to be a real heavyweight match,” he continued.

That said, Manchin has brushed off these concerns. He could paint the bill as an ultimate win for West Virginia, because of the side agreement he made with the Biden administration to create a fast track for the aMountain Valley pipeline and the legislation’s indefinite extension of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund fee which benefits the blue collar West Virginia workers suffering from ailments associated with lives spencer working in the coal industry.