West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D – WV) was named as the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by Senate Democrats.
Manchin is a strong supporter of the coal industry and has often broken party lines to side with the Trump administration on the GOP on energy issues. His nomination to the Energy and Resources committee was opposed by some progressive groups in within the Democratic party.
While Senate Democrats decide committee leadership roles by seniority, the Democratic caucus ratified the lineup.
“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to serve West Virginians in this new role as the lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,” Manchin said in a statement.
“This committee has a long history of bipartisanship that has helped propel our nation’s energy technology forward. West Virginia is a leading energy producer and major contributor to advanced energy technologies, and I intend to ensure this progress is continued,” he said.
“The problems facing our country are serious, and I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common sense solutions for long-term comprehensive energy policy that incorporates an all-of-the-above strategy and ensures our state and our nation are leaders in the energy future.”
The panel oversees the Energy and Interior departments, including public lands, energy policy, energy efficiency standards and fossil fuel production on federal land and offshore.
The Hill reported that Manchin famously shot a copy of the Democrats' cap-and-trade climate change bill in a 2010 campaign commercial to demonstrate his opposition to it and support for coal.
He voted against Bernard McNamee, President Trump’s nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It was a flip from his vote in the Energy Committee, and he said it was because McNamee denied the science of climate change.
Environmentalists have slammed Manchin and called on Schumer to use his authority to name someone else ranking member.
Manchin, meanwhile, has promised to go in with an open mind and take seriously concerns of the rest of the Democratic caucus, environmentalists, renewable energy advocates and others.
“Hopefully there’s concern over nothing, because I’m happy to work with everybody,” he said last week.
Four senators outranked Manchin in seniority and could have blocked him from becoming ranking member. But each wanted instead to be ranking member of another committee.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA), the ranking member since 2015, took over as the top Democrat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) remained atop the Finance Committee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI.) kept the top spot on the Agriculture Committee and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) kept the ranking position on the Budget Committee.