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Text of Debt Ceiling Bill Now Available; President Biden Urges Passage; One Really Bad Section, Basically Forcing Approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Should Be Removed If At All Possible

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The text of the debt limit bill is now available. And as Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11) said earlier today:

“Bill text, not toplines and hallway pressers, will determine whether this is a good or bad deal. The 14th Amendment must remain an option”

So…what’s in this bill?  A lot of stuff, including (according to President Biden): “Prevents a first-ever default” (raises the debt ceiling until January 2025); “Protects President Biden’s key priorities and accomplishments”; “Rejects extreme cuts to programs veterans, seniors, and families count on”; “Protects Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid”; “Keeps President Biden’s student loan relief program for 40 million hardworking borrowers”; etc. (note: see below for video of President Biden speaking a bit earlier this evening on the debt ceiling deal).

Much of which is good, or at least not as bad as it could have been given the fact that Republicans unfortunately control the U.S. House. Still, some of this stuff – some tightened work requirements (although possibly some loosened ones too?) for receiving SNAP benefits, freezing most domestic discretionary spending for two years, reductions (although it’s not clear how much exactly) in IRS funding, etc. – are suboptimal, let’s just say (although obviously, with divided government, and with hard-right Republicans in charge of the U.S. House, some bad s*** was going to get through…the key being to LIMIT the damage as much as possible, which President Biden largely appears to have done).

One thing which is particularly suboptimal – actually, worse than suboptimal, as it completely sucks – per Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs, happens to be of specific interest to Virginia:

“Scoop: Joe Manchin slipped into the debt limit deal a measure meant to accelerate Mountain Valley Pipeline, a multi-billion-dollar natural gas pipeline that’s been repeatedly stalled on environmental concerns…Biden’s negotiators decided fairly early on in the talks to include Mountain Valley Pipeline language, I’m told, arguing the project is nearly done anyway — and has cleared almost all its legal hurdles — so it would be unwise to reject Manchin’s proposal. GOP supported it. Manchin’s proposal in the debt deal would force agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and would give the DC Circuit jurisdiction over future litigation involving the project.”

So that’s not good AT ALL…even if it’s not particularly surprising, given how relentless – even obsessed – Sen. Manchin’s been about this polluting boondoggle. It will be very interesting to see What Sen. Tim Kaine has to say about this, given his strong opposition (as he expressed last September) to “tak[ing] one project that’s in my state, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, out of permitting processes, out of judicial review, and hav[ing] Congress put our thumb on the scale advancing the project immune from the normal permitting processes and judicial review.” Also, as Sen. Kaine argued last September, “I don’t think Congress in the business of approving pipelines or rejecting them.” So we’ll see what happens with this debt ceiling bill – and obviously we can’t default on the national debt, so something has to happen in the next few days, whether passing this bill or invoking the 14th amendment or whatever – but this section (Section 324, ” Expediting completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline”) of the debt ceiling bill is really bad and should be removed, if at all possible…

 

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