December 17, 2015

Manchin Condemns Irresponsible $680 Billion Tax Extenders Package in Senate Floor Speech

Senator opposes deal that adds to our mounting debt, extends tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and ignores the fiscally responsible “Miners Protection Act”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor explaining his opposition to the $680 billion in tax expenditures included in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package. Senator Manchin encouraged his colleagues to vote against the deal that adds to our mounting national debt, extends tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and ignores the fiscally responsible “Miners Protection Act.”

To watch Senator Manchin’s floor remarks, click here.

Senator Manchin’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

M. President, I rise today to applaud my colleagues for being in the Christmas spirit.

I have never seen so many gifts and presents given out in one bill.

Let’s be clear: we aren’t voting on just a $1.1 trillion spending bill, called the Omnibus. That bill, by itself, could have been acceptable because it helps veterans, middle class families, our defense department, our border security and a host of other valuable federal programs. But we aren’t voting on just the Omnibus; we are forced to vote on both the Omnibus and a tax extender package that adds on an additional, unpaid-for $680 billion dollars full of gifts for special interest groups.

We are giving out $680 billion in irresponsible tax breaks Christmas gifts to every special interest and corporation that asked for one.

We gave Christmas presents to millionaire race car drivers and motorcycle riders, film, television and theater producers and even race horse owners.

Now don’t get me wrong M. President, I like going to the movies, riding my motorcycle and going horseback riding.

But I don’t think many middle class Americans would be happy to know we gave away billions of dollars in tax gifts to millionaires and billionaires at their expense.

And they should be especially upset that we did it by mortgaging the futures of their children and grandchildren.

I think a lot of Americans would want to know how we got here.

How did we get to the point that we force ourselves to vote on a trillion dollar spending bill that is two thousand pages long at the end of the year, just so we can all rush home for the holidays?

How did we add a $700 billion tax extender package that gives the wealthiest among us the gifts they want?

The truth is that we stopped following regular order.

A lot of us have only heard about regular order. We have never actually governed by it.

I only know about regular order because Senator Robert Byrd told me how this place worked before I joined the Senate.

He would be disappointed in us all on both sides of the aisle, and most of all, disappointed in how we have run the body he loved so much.

Here’s what regular order is supposed to look like:

After receiving the President’s budget, Congress is supposed to respond with our view of what the budget should look like.

Then we work through the 12 appropriations committees and their subcommittees to develop 12 separate appropriations bills.

The entire body should then consider each individual bill and make the sure they meet the demands of our constituents while staying within the means of our set budget.

We need to do that 12 separate times so we can honestly tell the American public that we were responsible with their money.

Instead, we are jammed at the last minute with a $1.1 trillion spending bill that is over 2,000 pages long and considers the priorities of those 12 committees all at once.

Not only that, this year, we have the special treat of adding on a $700 billion tax gift Christmas tree – instead of actually doing the tax reform that all of us talk about but never actually get around to.

At some point we are going to have to start setting our priorities based on our values, budgeting based on our priorities and being responsible stewards of the taxpayer’s money.

Instead of working throughout the year in a bipartisan way, we continue to govern by crisis.

We kick the can down the road all year, and then add in more than half a trillion dollars in gifts to our special interest friends.

And both parties are to blame.

This Christmas gift will add over $2 trillion to our debt over the next two decades.

My grandfather always taught me to base our priorities on our values and then budget based on our priorities.

Well we sure are showing the American people what our values are with this bill.

We pay a lot of lip service on this floor, on cable news and on the campaign trail about our priorities.

But when it comes time to govern based on those priorities – all we get is lip service.

We had choices to make in this bill.

We could have helped middle class families, or could have given tax breaks to multinational companies, notably the major banks, parking their money abroad.

We could choose to make college debt free, or we could choose to help film, television and theater producers deduct the costs of their movies, shows, and plays.

We could choose to double our border security, or we could allow race horses to be depreciable.

We could choose to give every American family $5,600 in tax relief, or we could choose to give favorable tax treatment to racing complexes.

We could have chosen to keep the promise that President Truman made to our patriotic coal miners back in 1946, and protected their pension and health care guarantees, or we could chose to give $680 billion in tax breaks to special interest groups, millionaires and billionaires.

M. President, we chose poorly.

Democrats and Republicans both say that we need to help our hardworking American families.

But we have completely ignored the most hardworking people out there – our coal miners.

And we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Now I know that some of my colleagues don’t like coal. They think we don’t need it and want to get rid of it.

But this isn’t about coal.

This is about the brave men and woman who have gone into those mines every day for over a century to power our economy, produce the weapons to fight our wars, and provide the energy that we all depend on every day.

These men and woman were guaranteed affordable health care and dignity in retirement in return for the blood, sweat and tears they shed for this country.

Today we went back on this promise. We decided to help race car owners, film producers, horse racing professionals, foreign entities, and a host of other special interest groups, but we didn’t help our own miners.

Today we said that despite finding a fiscally responsible way to meet these obligations, our priorities were not in valuing their service.

M. President, I cannot stand here and vote for a bill that tells middle class Americans, students and veterans, doctors and nurses, mothers and fathers and our seniors that these are our values.

Because they are not.

They are not the values that the good people of West Virginia hold true.

And they are not the values that the Greatest Generation, and our miners fought for.

I encourage all my colleagues to vote no and show the American people what our values and priorities really are.