Manchin Threatens to Block More Biden Nominees as He Blasts White House

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(Bloomberg) -- Senator Joe Manchin is threatening to hold up more of President Joe Biden’s nominees, escalating a clash with the White House over its implementation of energy provisions in Democrats’ signature climate law.

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“The Biden administration must begin to implement the IRA that was passed, not the law they wanted but did not get,” Manchin wrote in an opinion piece published in the Houston Chronicle Friday. “Let me be clear: If they choose to continue down this path there will be consequences now and in the future.”

Manchin used the piece and a separate appearance Friday at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference to air grievances with the Biden administration, accusing them of ignoring federal mandates in the Inflation Reduction Act and other laws. Manchin, a conservative Democrat, represents a crucial vote needed to confirm Biden’s nominations in the Senate, which Democrats narrowly control by an effective 51-49 majority.

The administration, Manchin wrote, has “chosen to illogically advance a partisan climate agenda and appease radical activists.”

In particular, Manchin has criticized Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other administration officials he says are not abiding by electric vehicle tax credit restrictions he put in place to ensure the incentive doesn’t subsidize foreign adversaries.

Read More: Manchin Says Talks With Yellen Underway Over EV Tax Credits

Manchin said he would use his chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to block advancing Biden’s nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis to a key Interior Department post charting energy policy on federal lands.

Manchin objected to her apparent acceptance of recommendations to sell oil leases in Alaska’s Cook Inlet at higher royalty rates that would suppress industry interest, even though an Interior Department analysis concluded more attractive terms would have lured more investment and energy development.

Manchin also has chafed at a record-setting delay in the Interior Department issuance of a new five-year plan for selling offshore oil and gas leases. In a court filing earlier this week, the agency said it did not expect to have a new plan in place until December 2023, which would create an unprecedented 18-month lapse since the previous leasing program expired in June 2022.

Going forward Manchin wrote that he would subject all of Biden’s nominees to a test: “Are they political partisans first or Americans first?”

Interior spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said the department was “very disappointed” by Manchin’s position, despite his previous support for Daniel-Davis in committee hearings and votes over the past two years.

“Laura Daniel-Davis has served this administration, as she has two others, with a dedication that we should aspire to see in every public servant,” Schwartz said. “She will continue to lead this portfolio at Interior and implement President Biden’s direction, stated consistently and clearly since day one, with respect to carefully balancing the role that public lands and waters play as we face the climate crisis.”

(Updates with Interior comment from 10th paragraph)

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