Democratic senators from mining-heavy states appear to be rattled by their House of Representatives counterparts’ assault on the mining industry in their $3.5 trillion budget bill.
Two Democrats on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee have spoken out about a provision in the behemoth budget bill that would make mining operations on federal lands costlier by imposing new taxes and royalty fees on those operations.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., expressed her opposition to the “reform proposal” as the legislation “would have an unfair, outsized impact on the state of Nevada,” whose land is mostly “owned by the federal government” and also “imposes taxes on federal land.”
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“But more importantly, moving this type of reform through a short-term budget process would create uncertainty for the industry and uncertainty that supports thousands of jobs across the country,” Cortez Masto said during a committee hearing on Tuesday morning.
New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, another Democrat on the committee, urged for the Senate to take a more measured approach than the House when it came to the mining measure.
“Madame Chair, my time is expired but I would urge us to not take quite the zealous approach that the House of Representatives took but to find a fair and transparent way for taxpayers to be compensated for these minerals,” Heinrich said.
The two committee Democrats join their Republican colleagues in opposition to the provision.
Committee ranking member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., torched the budget bill carrying the proposal, pointing out that the House Democrats’ legislative proposal also includes a provision that would tax mining firms “based on the amount of dirt they move.”
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Barrasso said. “House Democrats are planning to tax dirt.”
With a razor-thin majority in both the House and Senate, the pushback against the tax proposal illustrates the growing fracture in the Democratic Party between the far-left progressive wing and the moderate members of the party.
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Losing the support of two Democratic senators in a 50-50 Senate would be detrimental to the Democrats’ plans to pass both their budget reconciliation and infrastructure bills.
The two bills were unable to make it through the House after the Democrats failed to strike a deal, delaying the bills and dealing a major blow to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox News Digital. You can find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene