November 16, 2011

Manchin marks first year in office | Williamson Daily News

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was sworn in a year ago Tuesday, taking the seat of the late Robert C. Byrd. He shared his proudest accomplishments from his first year in office, even saying he’s met all 99 colleagues in the Senate.

Since being sworn in to the United States Senate on Nov. 15, 2010, Manchin said he has focused on working across the aisle and bringing his commonsense agenda to Washington, which includes: creating new jobs, getting the financial house in order, keeping promises to veterans and seniors and achieving energy independence within this generation.

Some highlights from Manchin’s first year in office included:

•Five statewide tours of West Virginia, beginning in January with “Call for Commonsense,” and most recently ending in October with “Commonsense Ideas for a Stronger America.”

•Five town hall meetings

•Visits to 24 courthouses

•Addressed nearly 3,500 cases involving personal issues that include Social Security, Veterans Affairs, black lung benefits and Medicare.

•Sponsored or co-sponsored 94 legislative measures, including the EPA Fair Play Act, the Jobs Score Act, and the Pill Mill Crackdown Act.

The Pill Mill Crackdown Act targets doctors, clinics and pharmacies that prescribe or dispense prescription narcotics inappropriately. It would reclassify hydrocodone-combination drugs that are prone to abuse, such as Vicodin.

“Drug abuse is devastating communities in my state,” Manchin said when he introduced the act. “Whether it’s preventing employers from being able to hire or tearing families apart.”

The act would also double the prison sentence and triple the fines for illegal distribution for controlled substances. In addition, any assets seized from violators would be used to fund drug treatment programs and state drug-monitoring databases that collect information on prescription drugs prescribed and dispensed.

Manchin has also presented 22 floor speeches, including his “Upper Big Branch Anniversary” speech, held April 5, and “Rebuild America, not Afghanistan,” held June 21. He has a 96.8 percent voting record, having voted 242 times in total.

He has also met with 12 ambassadors, with countries including Afghanistan, Japan, Israel, Pakistan and South Korea.

In one year, Manchin has traveled 18,000 miles, visited 45 counties in West Virginia and held 19 events with federal agencies on issues ranging from the needs of an aging population to Marcellus shale gas drilling.

Not only has he traveled a large number of miles in his state, he also traveled more than 17,000 during a Congressional Delegation Trip, which took the senator to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries, six in total.

The trip lasted nine days and he held 10 meetings with heads of state, prime ministers and cabinet members.

Manchin said that he would “continue to focus every day on the next generation, not the next election” as long as he is fortunate enough to be the Senator from West Virginia.

He has sent out nearly 79,000 pieces of mail responding to constituents since taking office.

“My proudest accomplishment in this past year has been maintaining my independence, and making sure that people know I will always stand up for West Virginia and speak my mind,” Manchin said. “For the past year, I’ve worked hard every day to bring bipartisanship and our commonsense values to Washington.”