By Sarah Mansheim
U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin addressed the state chamber of commerce during the annual West Virginia Business Summit at The Greenbrier on Thursday, each delivering remarks about the economic environment in the Mountain State and across America.
Both senators spoke in favor of a new spirit of bipartisanship in on Capitol Hill, with Capito stating that this year, the Senate is functioning much better than last year, with 80 bipartisan bills passing the Senate.
When Manchin spoke, he noted that his warm relationship with Capito in Washington, D.C. has caught the attention of their colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
“We’re the envy of the Senate right now,” he said.
Of course, it helps that Manchin is staunchly pro-coal. Both Senators spoke out against increased coal regulations in the state and the new energy bill proposed by the Obama administration. Manchin stopped short of criticizing the Obama administration, unlike Capito, but he agreed with the Republican senator in his desire to see more innovation in coal production, and of course, less regulation.
The bipartisan lovefest continued during each senator’s remarks about infrastructure and high speed internet, with both Capito and Manchin insisting that these topics are crucial to the success of West Virginia.
“Fix the damn roads in West Virginia!” insisted Capito, to resounding applause from the audience. She went on to say that 600 bridges in the state are deteriorating, and that only 56 percent of West Virginia homes have high-speed internet.
“This great country has always been about the future. What happened to that creative, innovative vision?” asked Manchin, who said the same nation that built the railroads, interstates and even space shuttles has now neglected to maintain its roads and bridges, and failed to bring broadband internet to every corner of the United States.
The subject of the Iran nuclear deal forced both Capito and Manchin back into their own political corners. Capito staunchly stood against the deal, saying she didn’t trust the country with U.S. dollars.
“Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, “ she said. “But their people were suffering. So they came to the table to ease economic sanctions.” Capito said she did not doubt that the $150 million in aid would not be used to partially help Iran’s citizens, but, she added, “I think they’ll foment some terror groups” with the money as well.
“I will be voting for the bill that will disapprove this agreement,” she said.
Manchin was less decisive, admitting that he still does not know whether or not to vote in favor of the deal.
Acknowledging that some of the aid received by Iran could be used to sponsor terrorism, he said he is working to balance that knowledge with the fact that this deal could be the only way to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
He noted that should the United States continue to sanction Iran, China will step in and offer them aid; therefore, he said, continuing to impose economic sanctions against Iran will not stop them from funding terror.
“Can you vote for something that supports a terroristic organization? I don’t know,” he said.