Permitting Reform Measure in GOP Energy Plan Has Bipartisan Support, but Not as Part of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Voters are split on whether Democrats should vote with Republicans to pass their energy package if it means Republicans will have to vote with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling
April 17, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

Sign up to get the latest global energy news and analysis delivered to your inbox every morning

As lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., this week, House Republicans are gearing up for a drawn-out debate on their priority energy package called the Lower Energy Costs Act, which already passed the GOP-controlled chamber but will more than likely stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate. 

Despite the legislation’s dim prospects, its provision to speed up energy project permitting has bipartisan support among voters, according to a new Morning Consult survey. But the electorate is split on the idea of using that measure as a bargaining chip for U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, as proposed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Half of Democrats Back Measure to Speed Up Permitting Approvals in GOP Energy Plan

The share of respondents who said they would support the following measures included in House Republicans’ proposed energy package:
Morning Consult Logo
Survey conducted March 31-April 2, 2023, among a representative sample of 1,959 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Democrats back permitting reform, but are less supportive of other measures in GOP energy package

  • Almost 3 in 5 voters support a provision to speed up the federal approval process for permits for energy and infrastructure projects, including a slim majority of Democrats (52%) and independents (54%) and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans (68%). 
  • About half of voters overall support measures in the package to reduce restrictions on the oil and mineral mining industries in an attempt to increase production. At least 3 in 5 Republicans backed these provisions, though Democrats were less enthusiastic about lifting restrictions on the oil industry and mineral mining industry, at 36% and 40% support, respectively.
  • Roughly half of voters support the GOP energy package in its current form, while almost a third oppose it. Unsurprisingly, 2 in 3 Republican voters support the energy package and half of Democrats oppose it — though roughly a third said they would support it. 

Voters Split on Proposal to Pass Permitting Reform Bill in Exchange for Raising the U.S. Debt Ceiling

The shares of respondents who said they would support or oppose a proposal for Democrats to pass energy permitting legislation with Republicans if it means Republicans would vote with Democrats to raise the U.S. debt ceiling
Morning Consult Logo
Survey conducted March 31-April 2, 2023, among a representative sample of 1,959 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Voters split on permitting reform/debt ceiling proposal, though almost half of Democrats open to the idea

  • In March, McCarthy proposed that House Republicans would be open to voting with Democrats to raise the U.S. debt ceiling if Democrats pledged to vote with the GOP to pass permitting reform legislation. The survey found voters are split on the proposal, with 37% in support, 36% in opposition and 28% saying they don’t know or have no opinion.
  • Somewhat surprisingly, almost half of Democratic voters (46%) would back the proposal given the exchange, while a similar share of Republicans (41%) oppose it. 
  • Three in 5 voters have not seen, read or heard much or anything at all about the House GOP’s energy package, including a nearly equal share of GOP voters. Almost 2 in 3 voters heard little or nothing at all about the debt ceiling proposal.

GOP’s energy package likely dead on arrival in the Senate, but could provide outline for working with Democrats on clean energy permitting

The GOP’s priority legislation passed the House at the end of March with a 225-204 vote, largely along party lines. 

The nearly 200-page plan contains measures that aim to boost fossil fuel production, speed up approvals of infrastructure projects and repeal major programs in the Inflation Reduction Act, but Democrats have called the plan a wish list for Big Oil. 

While the measure — which represents the GOP’s energy priorities during this congressional session — will likely fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate, the Lower Energy Costs Act could be a starting point for permitting reform negotiations. 

Reps. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) and Mike Levin (D-Calif.) have teamed up to assemble a counterproposal, but their version of permitting reform — the Clean Electricity Transmission Acceleration Act of 2023 — focuses solely on clean energy projects. The measure is expected to get pushback from Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who would likely want to include fossil fuel projects in the proposal. 

The March 31-April 2, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,959 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

A headshot photograph of Julia Martinez
Julia Martinez
Energy & Auto Analyst

Julia Martinez previously worked at Morning Consult as an energy & auto analyst on the Industry Intelligence team.

We want to hear from you. Reach out to this author or your Morning Consult team with any questions or comments.Contact Us