The GOP’s Biggest Win In Debt Ceiling Battle

Photo by Darren Halstead on Unsplash

The debt ceiling package announced Sunday (May 28) by House Republicans and President Joe Biden includes a provision to accelerate the approval of a 303-mile natural gas pipeline project from West Virginia to Virginia.

West Virginia lawmakers, who touted the project’s expected economic benefits for years, praised the unexpected green light given to the $1 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is 94 percent complete but has been bogged down in a lengthy permitting process for years.

The pipeline is forecast to generate 2,500 construction jobs, $40 million in new tax revenue for West Virginia, $10 million in new tax revenue for Virginia, and upwards of $250 million in royalties for West Virginia’s private landowners, who allowed their land to be used to build the project.

Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), ranking member for the Committee on Environment and Public Works, relayed in a statement that she had spoken to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) about what “completing the Mountain Valley Pipeline would mean for American jobs and domestic energy production.”

Capito expressed being “thrilled” it was included in the debt ceiling package.

While acknowledging the numerous delays, she expressed a commitment “to fight to get this critical natural gas pipeline up and running,” suggesting that being included in the deal would be a “victory” for West Virginia’s future.

According to a Capito spokesperson, the pipeline approval was ultimately included in the debt relief agreement after the Republican Senator personally engaged with McCarthy about its importance.

The spokesperson added that West Virginia’s entire congressional delegation had requested its inclusion in the package.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also praised McCarthy for including the project in the deal.

Manchin’s attempts last year to speed up the process in both the September budget package and the December defense spending package did not find enough support.