January 11, 2012

Manchin calls for end of partisan gridlock | Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - A West Virginia senator has asked the president and congressional leaders to start the new year in a bipartisan spirit, starting with Democrats and Republicans again sitting together during the State of the Union speech.

Manchin, in a telephone press conference with West Virginia reporters on Tuesday morning, said leaders must forego personal and party interests and look beyond the election and do what's right in the long-term for America rather than make short-term temporary fixes.

"I don't think you can run a country that way," the freshman Democrat said.

Manchin is on another tour around the state, meeting and speaking with students and constituents about the issues pressing the country. He'll be in Elizabeth on Thursday.

The growing debt, which increased another $1.4 trillion to $16.4 trillion since the last debate on raising the ceiling, is among the most pressing of problems and Americans have lost faith in their leaders to solve them, Manchin said. At a 9 percent approval rating, Manchin said he couldn't understand how Congress got that much.

The Simpson-Bowles commission produced a bipartisan plan to reduce debt and control spending, which appears to be gaining more support in Congress, Manchin said. President Obama and leaders in the House and Senate should recognize there's support for the Simpson-Bowles plan and act accordingly, he said.

"The leadership should step up to the plate," he said.

Manchin Tuesday sent a letter to the president, Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"With our nation facing such grave economic and social challenges, we can't let Washington's dysfunction continue unabated for another year," he said. "We must change. We must seize the moment ahead to build greater levels of trust across the political aisle."

Manchin said representatives should Democrats and Republicans should again sit next to each other during the state of the union speech on Jan. 24, create a bipartisan forum on finding common ground where representatives can ask how the leaders plan to work together and hold monthly bipartisan caucuses where the president can participate.

"Looking ahead, I hope we don't let the politics or an election distract us from our commitment to this nation. For the sake of our children's future, we must focus on the next generation, not the next election," the letter said. "And while these steps will by no means bridge our political divide, they will help to restore the trust and confidence in our system that so many Americans have lost."

The senator also talked about Obama's chances in West Virginia in 2012, support of the president's defense spending reductions and getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan and support for the Keystone crude oil pipeline from Canada to refineries in the United States.

By:  Jess Mancini