April 21, 2021

Manchin Questions Administration Officials On Infrastructure Proposal, West Virginia Priorities

Video of Senator Manchin during the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing can be found here.

Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge during the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on President Biden’s infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan. 

Senator Manchin continues to work tirelessly to increase access to affordable, reliable broadband for every West Virginian. Senator Manchin questioned Secretary Raimondo on how President Biden’s infrastructure proposal would expand broadband infrastructure in West Virginia.

Senator Manchin said in part, “In the 1930’s, my grandparents didn’t have electricity, most rural Americans and rural West Virginians didn’t. Then FDR gets elected and you have rural electrification. They were able to basically take a line of every holler, every little nook and cranny in America to make sure everyone was connected…I find it really challenging now that 21st century infrastructure of internet and broadband and connectivity is about the same as electricity was back then in the 1930’s and still yet we haven’t been able to unlock this for some reason. I’ve said if you look at the model that was put together in the early 20th century using co-ops to provide electricity in areas where you could not force the large, public companies to go because they would lose money. The co-ops weren’t profit driven. Why can’t we use that same model that was used to basically to implement broadband infrastructure in all these very difficult, challenging areas? Because if Appalachia is left behind, then you will have more poverty than you’ve ever seen before.”

During the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Senator Manchin also asked Secretary Buttigieg to prioritize completing Corridor H in a timely fashion. Corridor H, also known as U.S. Route 48, connects I-79 in Weston to I-81 in Strasburg, VA and will be an economic gateway to much of West Virginia which will in turn increase tourism across the Mountain State. Senator Manchin began advocating for the completion of Corridor H while serving as Governor and continues to fight for West Virginia to receive the funding needed to complete the project.

“The Appalachian Development Highway System, that was to build 3,090 miles of roads, is 90% complete. This last 284 miles is the toughest of all and it’s not supposed to be done until 2040 and we’ve got parts of West Virginia that are isolated getting even further behind because of the transition from the coal communities. So I’m hoping that President Biden made it very clear that he wants to make sure that we leave nobody behind, those are areas that we have to bring your attention to. It needs to be accelerated, if not it will not get done for the next 20 years,” Senator Manchin continued.

Senator Manchin also highlighted the need for both sides of the aisle to work together to pass an infrastructure bill. He asked each of the Secretaries which portion of the infrastructure plan has bipartisan support.

Senator Manchin continued, “Yesterday on the floor of the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said ‘We’re seeing that when the Senate is given the opportunity to work, the Senate can work’ and that’s something I very much agree with, as you know. So we have to end this on a positive note, what piece of your portion of this infrastructure plan do you believe seems to have the most bipartisan support?”

A video of Senator Manchin’s questions during the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing can be found here