Sen. Joe Manchin III was speaking on energy policy at an event in Washington on Tuesday for 90 seconds before climate change protesters stopped the conservative Democrat from West Virginia in his tracks.
Protesters quickly took over the stage where Mr Manchin was fielding questions from Semafor editor Steve Clemons to sing about the ‘dirty deal’ the Senate Energy Committee chairman struck the week latest as part of the bipartisan agreement to let the government keep borrowing above the $31.4 trillion limit.
That deal is for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a near-complete $6.6 billion natural gas venture that has been bogged down for years by litigation and environmental reviews. Debt limitation legislation, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden, breaks the impasse to formally greenlight the project’s remaining permits.
“Bad deal, MVP, Manchin you’re killing me!” recited the demonstrators.
Climate Defiance, an activist organization known for tactics such as closing roads and public events featuring government officials, called for the event to be stopped.
“Well done! Manchin deserves to be protested wherever he goes,” tweeted Jamie Henn, director of another climate group called Fossil Free Media. decorum “is nothing compared to the standards Manchin broke to get his pet pipeline approved under the dirty debt ceiling deal.”
Just before the shutdown, Mr Manchin said the pipeline deal had been reached after “a lot of hard work”. He lobbied the White House to approve it last year.
“I don’t know if they woke up,” Mr Manchin said. “They’re just sick of hearing me out.”
Mr Manchin reportedly celebrated the hiatus as a political gain for his re-election chances. His ruby-red seat is seen as one of the most vulnerable for Senate Democrats next year as Republicans seek to end Democrats’ one-seat majority.
“What these people did today is helping me tremendously in my condition,” Mr. Manchin later told attendees, according to CNN.