After bipartisan rebuff, Manchin abandons private legislative deal to help fossil fuel projects
A handful of pro-fossil fuels legislators and activists gathered in Richmond on Tuesday to urge Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to make good on his promise to vote against the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision marked a rare public break with the party’s current leadership, as other moderate, moderate-leaning senators have continued to back the pipeline.
Schumer, who became Senate Democratic leader in February after leading the Democratic Conference in the House, held his ground despite the pressure of activists who want him to reject the project.
“I have stood firm. … It is not a pipeline I am going to approve,” Schumer told his fellow senators at a caucus meeting in which the group delivered a report that highlighted the concerns Republicans and some Democrats have with the proposal.
“I’m not opposed,” Schumer acknowledged to the group.
Still, he said he’ll be voting to reject it, a position he took last January, when the president’s rejection of the measure put him in a difficult political position with his Democratic colleagues. His decision to take a “no” vote came only days after the president had the support of 60 percent of Republican voters who said they were opposed to the project, and even though it was backed by the Chamber of Commerce.
“I didn’t want to say it [was] a no [vote] because I am a Democrat,” Schumer said on Tuesday. “But what I am saying is that when a pipeline is made up of two parts, one of which has to do with energy … that we have a legitimate concern that these pipelines become a threat to the environment. I do worry about this pipeline.”
The meeting drew criticism from some in the room, according to activists, who criticized Schumer for his decision not to support the Keystone project as a vote against climate change. Several of the protesters expressed similar sentiment and said they felt Schumer shouldn’t have used the pipeline to push his political agenda.
The protesters were far outnumbered by supporters who showed up to the meeting, as the anti-Keystone sentiment