August 04, 2021

Manchin Secures West Virginia Priorities In Appropriations Bills

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured West Virginia priorities in the three appropriations bills, Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
“Today the Senate Appropriations Committee reviewed three bills that include numerous West Virginia priorities,” said Senator Manchin. “I fought hard to include amendments and earmarks for our state priorities including funding to expand rural broadband access, address the drug epidemic, and support for a Coal Communities Regional Innovation, Development and Demonstration center. I was also successful in including a review of the VA accreditation program and conflicts of interest at the FDA. These are big wins for the Mountain State and as we continue this appropriations process, I will ensure West Virginia gets our fair share.”
West Virginia Congressionally Directed Spending Requests Included:
·       Energy & Water Development
o   Coal Communities Regional Innovation Cluster: $4 million for a Coal Communities Regional Innovation Cluster for Technology Development and Demonstration in West Virginia to stimulate regional economic impact.
o   I-79 High Technology Park Solar Test Site: $1.9 million to design and engineer a solar test site at the I-79 Technology Park in coordination with Mon Power and West Virginia University.
o   Kanawha River Streambank Stabilization: $4.78 million to stabilize the riverbank of the Kanawha River in Charleston along Route 60. The project will support the final phase and is shovel-ready. Earlier phases have been funded by the Army Corps of Engineers.
o   Wheeling Drainage Project: $546,000 in response to the frequent, severe flash-flooding and drainage ditch flooding in downtown Wheeling along Elm Run. This request will upgrade the city’s storm sewer system to better address flooding concerns and boost local resiliency.
o   Kanawha River Basin Study: $500,000 in response to the severe flooding over the past several years, this request provides funding for the first time to allow the Kanawha River Basin study to be completed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
·       Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food & Drug Administration
o   Pocahontas County Distance Learning: $46,000 for the Pocahontas Board of Education to place devices into the hands and homes of students and teachers in K-12 in Pocahontas County.
o   Shepherd University Distance Learning: $110,000 for Shepherd University to offer students distance dual enrollment courses, allowing them to start earning credits toward an advanced degree.
o   Anmoore Safety Complex Stair Replacement: $55,000 to replace the two sets of stairs that are used to access the second story rooms in the Anmoore Safety Complex/Fire Department building.
o   Ridgley Volunteer Fire Department: $875,000 to replace and repair the ageing fire station owned and operated by the Ridgely Volunteer Fire Department.
Amendments Led By Senator Manchin
·       Energy & Water Development
o   Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization: Directs the Department of Energy to include a specific line item in their future annual budgets for the working group’s activities within NETL and encourages the Department of Energy to allocate sufficient funds from the Departmental Administration Account for the working group’s activities for FY22.
o   Advanced Fossil Projects in the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program: Prioritizes projects resulting in significant direct and indirect job creation and tax generation in priority Energy Communities impacted by coal mine and power plant closures, as identified by Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.
o   Ethane Study: Directs the Department of Energy provide a status update and expected timeline for release on their congressionally mandated report on ethane production and consumption trends.
·       Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food & Drug Administration
o   FDA Conflicts of Interest: Instructs the Administration Inspector General to review conflicts of interest between FDA agency employees and companies, including consulting firms, interested in receiving drug approvals and the FDAs review of these drugs, and report back to the Appropriations Committee on the results of this review.
o   Addresses Incorrect Marketing of Opioids: Includes Senator Manchin’s FREED of Opioids Act, which directs the FDA to establish a study to review the enriched enrollment randomized withdrawal (EERW) methodology for clinical trials that are used to approve new opioids. This flawed methodology has led to incorrect marketing of opioids that do more harm than good.
o   Small-Scale Water & Wastewater Technologies Pilot Program: Prioritizes Rural Water and Wastewater Disposal program funds for pilot projects intended to provide decentralized small-scale water and wastewater services to communities in distressed counties within Central Appalachia.
·       Military Construction & Veterans Affairs
o   VA Third-Party Accreditation Criteria: Orders a review of third-party accreditation providers, like The Joint Commission, which accredits VA facilities, and is a much needed assessment of how accreditation providers are passing VAMCs with such blatant failures, like Clarksburg VAMC.
West Virginia Priorities Included
·       Energy & Water Development
o   Carbon-Neutral Methanol Laboratory Demonstration: $10 million for a laboratory demonstration project for carbon-neutral methanol synthesis from direct air capture and carbon-free hydrogen production.
o   Appalachian Regional Commission: $210 million for basic infrastructure, job training, and to combat substance abuse in southern and central Appalachia, including $15 million for broadband funding for distressed counties in North and North Central Appalachia, including 10 in West Virginia.
o   Fossil Energy and Carbon Management Research and Development: $850 million for Fossil Energy Research and Development.
o   National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL): $153 million for NETL. Including $25 million for a Direct Air Capture Center at NETL.
o   Direct Air Capture: $75 million for Direct Air Capture, including supporting Direct Air Capture Prize competitions, which the Energy Act of 2020 authorized. 
o   Office of Nuclear Energy Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program: $370 million and directs the Secretary to partner with industry to develop two advanced nuclear demonstration reactors. TerraPower advanced reactor could be considered for such a demonstration project.
o   Clean Industrial Technology Research and Development: $520 million, establishes new Office of Industrial Emissions Reduction Technology Development Program to coordinate across Department of Energy.
·       Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food & Drug Administration
o   Rural Broadband: Language urging the USDA Secretary to prioritize funding within the ReConnect and Community Connect rural broadband deployment programs to areas like West Virginia with mountainous terrain.
o   Opioids: $24 million for FDA to continue its activities related to the opioid crisis, a $4 million increase over FY21.
o   Appalachian Honeybees: $2.5 million for continued work at the Pollinator Recovery, Education, & Research Center in Hinton, WV, which researches the decline of honeybees while creating jobs and economic revitalization in former coal mining towns.
o   Appalachian Natural Products Research: $1 million for research at Marshall University to advance natural products research and application with a focus non-plant species in Appalachia.
o   Rural Definition: Robust funding to conduct research on the feasibility of identifying census tracts with difficult or mountainous terrain to better measure rural areas in Appalachia.
o   Precision Aquaculture: $2 million for the National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture located in Leetown to study sustainable domestic aquaculture production.
o   Chronic Wasting Disease: $14 million through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for continued research. $10 million will be distributed to states meeting the criteria for continued study.
o   Rural Housing: Includes $1.45 billion for the Rental Assistance Program which is a $40 million increase. This program helps reduce rents paid by low-income families living in Rural Housing Service financed rental projects and farm labor housing projects.
o   SNAP: $105.83 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 
·       Military Construction & Veterans Affairs
o   State Cemetery Committal Shelters: Requires the VA to carry out a pilot program with selection of three locations at national cemeteries to enclose their committal shelters.
o   Martinsburg Corrosion Prevention Facility: Secured language expressing concern about the prevalence of aviation mishaps related to failures in aviation corrosion prevention. It directs the Air National Guard to submit a report within 90 days outlining the current state of indoor corrosion prevention infrastructure.
o   Negligence of Veterans Affairs Employees and Patient Safety: Directs the VA to take disciplinary action against any employee cited in criminal, civil, or inspector general filings, and requires a report to verify that all patient safety standards are being met.
o   Asset Infrastructure Commission: Prevents accepting Asset Infrastructure Review Commission recommendations until verified that the closing or moving of services will not make treatment and services more difficult to access.
o   Combat Mission Rehearsal Complex: This language requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report within 180 days to determine the feasibility of creating a joint training facility with Special Operations Command and a National Guard organization. This language will set up future expansions for joint all-domain training in West Virginia.
o   Domestic Sourcing of Shipbuilding Supplies: Bill language securing domestic products and services are provided also by US companies in shipyards.
o   VA Cybersecurity: Language to review and consider the Department of Defense’s success implementing a Zero Trust concept of operations on all VA owned networks.
o   Precision Oncology Program: Building on the $5 million for molecular diagnostics for veterans secured in the FY2021 Omnibus, this provides $15 million for the program.