December 30, 2022

Bipartisanship Can and Does Work

When the new Congress is sworn in on January 3, 2023, it will mark the end of the longest 50-50 Senate in the history of our country. The narrow makeup forced compromise and ultimately the 117th Congress was the most productive Congress in decades. As Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the most moderate member of the Senate, I fought hard to leverage my role to deliver significant wins for West Virginia and our country. From passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, this Congress is evidence that bipartisanship can and does work – and West Virginia comes out on top when it does. Because of the historic Inflation Reduction Act, all seniors on Medicare will have the cost of insulin capped at $35 and out-of-pocket drug prices for seniors on Medicare will be capped at $2,000 per year. I am proud of the meaningful impact these bills will have on the lives of all West Virginians and the future of our beloved state.

I’ve always said that innovation, not elimination, is key to securing our energy independence and security. The Inflation Reduction Act is an energy security bill and it provides the resources necessary to capitalize on West Virginia’s unique position to lead that energy innovation. For generations, West Virginians mined the coal that forged the steel that built the guns and ships that made our nation the superpower we are today. When I wrote the Inflation Reduction Act, ensuring West Virginia will play a critical role in America’s energy security future was my number one priority. I fought hard to include provisions that incentivize manufacturing investments here at home.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes a new $5 billion program to upgrade existing coal and gas infrastructure to be more efficient, create more coal and natural gas jobs, and reduce emissions, and substantially increases the value of the 45Q carbon capture, utilization, and storage incentives. And I fought to reserve $4 billion of the 48C investment tax credit that incentivizes energy manufacturers to invest in coal communities and bring new jobs and businesses to communities who have suffered through the downturn of the coal industry.
Already we have seen two major manufacturing announcements as a direct result of the incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act. On December 12th, Competitive Power Ventures announced that America’s first combined cycle natural gas power plant with carbon capture will be built in Doddridge County. This $3 billion project will employee approximately 1,000 skilled tradespeople from across the region and spur additional jobs and revenue once it is up and running. On December 22nd, Form Energy announced they will build the first iron-air battery manufacturing facility in Weirton creating at least 750 new full-time jobs. These investments would not have happened were it not for the incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act. They will revitalize our local economies and their impacts will trickle through our entire state creating new opportunities and breathing new life into our communities.
I am also working with stakeholders from across the state and region to bring a hydrogen hub to Appalachia, which I fought to ensure is required by law in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and supported with a hydrogen production incentive in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Clean hydrogen has tremendous potential, and an Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub in West Virginia will create good-paying, long-term jobs that advance new energy technologies, strengthen energy security and recognize the contributions West Virginia has made to our great nation.
The Inflation Reduction Act was not the only good work accomplished this year. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I was able to secure more than $2.5 billion in grant funding and an additional $228 million through Congressionally Directed Spending requests. The awards include funding for priorities like combatting the drug epidemic, improving health services in rural communities, boosting our transportation hubs, expanding broadband and more to ensure every Mountain State community has the resources it needs to thrive.
I am especially excited to see the positive impacts of $62.8 million for the Coalfield Development Corporation in Wayne County through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Challenge program to spur job growth in 21 economically distressed and coal-impacted counties in southern West Virginia by creating a hub of clean energy and green economy jobs. Yeager Airport also received more than $9.1 million for runway rehabilitation, which will support air travel through West Virginia’s largest airport.
While our state’s natural beauty is something we treasure, it also presents unique challenges when expanding broadband access across the state. Without broadband access, it is harder for West Virginians to learn, apply for jobs, launch new businesses, and reinvest in their communities. But this month, after years of effort and 2,400 speed tests submitted by West Virginians, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has updated their incorrect broadband coverage maps to now show a more accurate depiction of our broadband reality – West Virginia has the third worst coverage in the nation. These new maps level the playing field and prime West Virginia to receive and compete for hundreds of millions of dollars to build out reliable, affordable broadband access in every community — making West Virginia more competitive for workers and their families to make the Mountain State their home.

I am tremendously proud of everything we were able to accomplish for West Virginia this Congress and I am excited to see the fruits of these investments continue to create jobs and rebuild communities across West Virginia. I have never been more proud to represent our wild and wonderful state in Washington, and I will continue working for bipartisan, commonsense solutions that address the needs facing our state.

By:  Senator Joe Manchin