Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D.), who has been floated as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, on Tuesday rebuked the decision by Senate Democrats to name Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) as the ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, calling the appointment "disappointing."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) announced that members of the Senate Democratic caucus ratified the move, prompting Inslee to say in a statement that Manchin "literally shot the last bold climate legislation" put forward by the Democratic Party. The governor added that Manchin has shown "little resistance" to President Donald Trump's "dirty coal agenda."
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"It's increasingly clear, with a climate denier in the White House, that leadership on this issue must come from the states. Although we are in the 11th hour, it is our hour. It is our hour to build clean energy jobs in states across the country," Inslee said. "That's why I've put forward a comprehensive proposal to move Washington State to 100 percent clean energy and pleased to have several new Democratic governors as colleagues who I know are committed to moving their states forward on this issue."
Inslee went on to praise Manchin for his leadership on issues like health care and gun safety, but said the senator "cannot effectively lead our party's energy policy," in large part because of his history on climate change.
Manchin responded to the news of his appointment by saying he is "excited for the opportunity to continue to serve West Virginians in this new role."
"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," Manchin said.
This is not the first time that Inslee has been critical of Manchin for his work on climate change. Last week, Inslee warned Democrats about naming Manchin as the committee's ranking member.
"Look, Joe Manchin has been a champion for affordable health care for every American. He's been a leader on issues you and I care deeply about. But on climate, he's simply wrong," Inslee wrote.
Liberal billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer echoed Inslee's sentiment, telling the Daily Beast that the West Virginia Democrat does not "offer a bold, positive path forward" on climate and environmental issues.
"Every American has the right to clean air and clean water, and it's time for those in Washington, D.C. to stop playing politics and to take real action on climate," Steyer said. "Democrats must offer a bold, positive path forward—but Senator Manchin does not offer that vision and should not be the Democratic leader on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senate Democrats owe it to their constituents to tell the truth, acknowledge the urgent climate crisis we're in, and do what's right—instead of what's politically expedient for them."