Senator Joe Manchin touts a more than $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill that has just been passed by Congress, saying it is a decades-long overdue commitment for roads, bridges, water quality and broadband.
“It is one of the most important pieces of legislation that we have passed,” Manchin said in a briefing broadcast live today. “Biparty infrastructure has been tried for the past 30 years, and no president has been able to do it. It’s incredible.”
West Virginia’s share would be around $ 6 billion, Manchin said.
The infrastructure bill is now on the desk of President Joe Biden, who called it a “monumental step forward.”
The House of Representatives passed the bill Friday night by 228-206. Thirteen Republicans backed him, including Congressman David McKinley from West Virginia. Other state officials, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, voted against it, fearing it was linked to the Build Back Better bill on the social safety net.
The US Senate had already passed the bill in early August with Manchin and Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., voting in favor.
Capito had led the first negotiations between the White House and Republicans, and Manchin was part of a bipartisan group that struck a deal with the Biden administration on the legislation.
“We have developed a bill together with our Republican friends,” Manchin said today.
Manchin was attending a briefing that also included Democrats from the state Senate, including Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin and Senators Richard Lindsay and Ron Stollings.
“This bill is going to make a huge investment in West Virginia in our physical infrastructure,” Baldwin said. “These are investments that are desperately needed. We have been fighting for these infrastructure improvements for years. Unfortunately, we did not have the funds.
Based on the funding formulas, Manchin said West Virginia could receive $ 3 billion for highway programs, more than $ 500 million for bridges, nearly $ 200 million for public transit to l statewide, $ 43 million for airports, nearly $ 500 million for a range of water quality improvements, and nearly $ 600 million. for high speed internet.
“Just a lot of good stuff,” he said.
In addition, Manchin cited at least $ 700 million for cleaning up long-abandoned mining properties. Likewise, money would be spent on cleaning up orphan gas wells.
This cleaning will result in continued employment, he said.
“These are top notch jobs. This program lasts 8 to 10 years, ”said Manchin.
Capito, in a statement released after the bill was finally passed, reiterated its support.
“This bill will rebuild ruined roads and bridges; tackle aging water and wastewater systems; support our airports and ports; and connect rural America to broadband infrastructure and finally bridge the digital divide, ”she said.
West Virginia Democrats who attended today’s media briefing, including Manchin, thanked Capito and McKinley.
“The people of West Virginia need to thank David McKinley for having the courage to do what he needed to do for this state. You tell me another opportunity that you are going to have like this. David McKinley needs a lot of praise to go against the grain, ”Manchin said in response to a question from reporter Steven Allen Adams of Ogden Newspapers.
Former President Trump on Sunday slammed Republicans who voted in favor of the infrastructure bill, saying its passage would serve to help Democrats politically.
“All Republicans who voted for the longevity of Democrats should be ashamed of themselves,” Trump said in a statement.
Congressional incumbents McKinley and Mooney are on a collision course for the 2022 Republican primary in a newly demarcated strip of northern West Virginia.
Mooney extinguished A declaration after the vote on Friday he had not supported it because “it is full of liberal priorities totally foreign to infrastructure and transport”, without giving details.
“I support improving roads, bridges, waterways and high-speed Internet for the great state of West Virginia. I do not support adding billions of dollars in unnecessary spending and tax increases as part of the deal. “
Manchin was skeptical of this position, politically.
“For Mooney to try and use that against David McKinley – I think it’s going to hurt him so much when people find out what he voted against,” the senator said.
Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, generally expressed his support for the infrastructure bill during his own high-profile briefing today. Justice criticized the Build Better proposal as well as attempts to tie the two bills together.
“I thank Congressman McKinley. It took a lot of courage. It took a lot of courage for him to step up as he stepped forward, ”Justice said.
“But in all of this, I surely understand the Republicans’ position because they have the feeling, on the House side, that this could be Pandora’s box and that it could open the door in a certain way, in taking advantage of that to be able to get the social bill passed, so there is a lot of controversy and a lot of problems.