December 18, 2015

Manchin rips spending measure, vows a "no" vote against bill | Register-Herald

Sen. Joe Manchin vowed Thursday to vote against a spending bill that he says defeats the progress made over the last three years in decreasing the federal deficit.

The bill, now in two measures in the House of Representatives, authorizes $1.1 billion to fund government operations and makes permanent certain tax credits and extends others for up to five years, costing the government another $680 billion.

Manchin, D-W. Va., said he supports the omnibus bill that will fund the government, but is upset that the "tax extender" bill will take away any flexibility to put an "all inclusive tax revision together."

The House of Representatives voted to approve the tax extender measure Thursday on 318-109 vote. All three of W. Va.'s representatives—Republicans David McKinley, Evan Jenkins and Alex Mooney—voted for the bill.

If the House passes the $1.1 billion omnibus bill, the two will be combined for a Senate vote. Manchin also takes exception to that, preferring to vote on the bills separately. However, he said if the bills are combined, he will vote against the entire spending package.

"All these large tax deferments, all these tax gifts, if you will," he said. "I guess the millionaires and the billionaires will continue to do quite well. Somebody, sooner or later, has to say enough is enough. This is not the way you do business. I think it's totally irresponsible."

Manchin said the tax extender bill includes some good things that will help middle class Americans. Those include the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, which become permanent, he said.

He also blamed the Senate's leadership on both sides of the aisle for omitting the Miners Protection Act, crafted to protect coal miners' retirement and health care plans.

He said Senate leadership, principally Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was responsible for what was included in the bill. Manchin said the extender bill threw in the "kitchen sink" for programs that deal with race car drivers and theater operations, while omitting the MPA.

Manchin said numerous coal companies have gone through bankruptcies, putting miners' safeguards at risk. 

"I think we owe them this, the promise that was made in 1946 to our miners by Harry Truman, that they would have their pensions and their health care," he said. "(The leadership) talk(s) about the working middle class; tell me who's worked harder, tell me who's contributed more to the country over the last hundred years (than coal miners)?"   

Beyond responsibility to those who mine coal, Manchin said the MPA was a "paid for," using excess funds from Abandoned Mine Lands, most of it coming from fees paid on tonnage from western mines.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's aid Ashley Berrang said Capito is "reviewing both bills" and will decide how she plans to vote. Capito introduced the MPA with Manchin. 

Berrang said that the MPA was decided at the leadership level, not in the Senate Committee on Appropriat00ions of which Capito is a member. 

If the legislation passes both chambers, President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measures into law. 

By:  Pamela Pritt