July 11, 2012

Manchin speaks against overseas investment | West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin says he's disappointed that the federal government is making sure there’s electricity in Afghanistan while thousands of Americans remain without power.

Manchin is upset that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is awarding a $94 million contract to provide reliable power in Afghanistan. 

He spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate today. 

“So I thought, how I could explain this back home?” he said.

“We’re providing reliable power to the Afghans when nearly 200,000 West Virginians spent an entire week without electricity. We lost all of our food, suffered through nearly 100 degrees heat during this period of time, when our country is losing tens of hundreds of billions of dollars because of power outages all over the east coast.”

Manchin talked about a plan to spend millions of dollars to expand electricity to two provinces in Afghanistan. He pointed out the U.S. spent money in the 1970’s to bring electricity to the same region and the system was neglected because of war.

“I can’t say it enough, if you build a bridge in West Virginia we won’t blow it up. If you help us build a school we won’t burn it down. We’re very appreciative,” Manchin said.

“We appreciate the help of all the American taxpayers because we’re part of this great country,” he said. “And if you help us invest in a more reliable electricity system we will use that power to make this country stronger, to power this nation’s economy and to provide good paying jobs all over this country.”

Manchin is outraged that the Army Corps of Engineers is planning a contract to provide a more reliable power system for Afghanistan than the one here.

“The Army Times reported that the Corp’s awarding of $93.6 million to improve electrical transmission from the Kajaki dam power station throughout the Helmand Province of Afghanistan to include bearing transmission lines, bearing transmission lines which we don’t even do in America, and providing back-up generators which we don’t have, which is why we’ve lost our water systems and our food,” he said.

Manchin says he doesn’t have a problem loaning other countries money to help them get back on their feet but he opposes pouring billions of dollars into another country for a decade with no chance of repayment.

Manchin also questions this country’s priorities and wants the Federal government to invest that money in infrastructure needs here instead.

He says the U-S can’t help others if it doesn’t keep itself strong and its beginning to neglect the needs here at home.

By:  Cecelia Mason