Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a vocal critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, has signed on as a co-sponsor of Republican legislation to permanently block the agency's climate rules.
The addition of Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2012, as a co-sponsor means that the authors of the bill have been able to get at least some Democratic support in both the House and the Senate. Forty-three Senate Republicans sponsored the bill.
The Hill reported earlier Thursday that three House Democrats signed on to the legislation. Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have are both original co-sponsors. Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) also signed on to the legislation.
It's a no-brainer for coal country's Manchin, who knows full well that should this somehow pass the Senate, it will run directly into President Obama's veto pen. He loses nothing by doing this, and keeps his Ben Nelson/Evan Bayh cred heading into 2012. More importantly he does the heavy lifting so fellow Sen. Jay Rockefeller doesn't have to (although Rockefeller may still be a reliable vote for Manchin's bill.)
Practical upshot is Manchin gains more than he loses by making a point of co-sponsoring this legislation. Republicans get to fake playing the "bipartisan support" card too. Manchin made it clear from the outset that he wasn't going to support EPA action of any type on the coal industry, and if anything he's playing exactly to type.
Having said that, Harry Reid really ought to make Manchin pay a price for this. Voting for the bill is one thing. Co-sponsoring it is another.