MORGANTOWN – Sen. Joe Manchin doesn’t favor passing the entire $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan proposed by President Biden, he told members of the West Virginia press Wednesday morning. Not all at once, anyway.
He reminded all that there’s no actual bill yet to even consider, and said, “I want to be sure that we get a good infrastructure bill, and I mean infrastructure.”
By that, he means water, sewer, roads, bridges, airports, broadband, transit – all the things that need to be built or have deferred maintenance addressed. All the rest – the caretaking economy, research and development, manufacturing, “we can do all that in separate pieces of legislation.”
A Washington Post breakdown of the Biden plan – which Manchin displayed during the press conference – shows the transportation infrastructure portion accounts for $621 billion of the $2.3 trillion. Drinking water, broadband and electrical infrastructure total $311 billion. Affordable housing, schools, colleges and daycares, and “other” total another $396 billion.
The other extras Manchin mentioned – the caretaking economy, research and development, manufacturing – total $980 billion.
Manchin cited some specific needs for West Virginia. Corridor H, the Coalfields Expressway and the King Coal Highway all need to be completed to connect the southern and central parts of the state to other transportation corridors and open opportunities for growth.
U.S. 2, which runs up the Panhandle along the Ohio River, needs to be widened to four lanes, he said. And he appreciated a reminder about the I-68 extension from Morgantown to Moundsville, saying a new infrastructure bill could fund the design portion of that proposal.
Manchin said what comes first out of the shoot won’t be a $2.3 billion omnibus. “I would hope to see Democrats and Republicans agree on infrastructure – infrastructure by itself. … “We need jobs. … Infrastructure is a tremendous jobs bill by itself.”
Another part of the Biden plan calls for $175 billion in subsidies to promote electric vehicles and turn the entire federal motor electric. Manchin opposes that idea, he said, cautioning that he likes electric vehicles.
“Why would you put all of your transportation eggs in one basket when we’re depending on all battery raw materials it takes to build a battery come from China?” So do solar panels, he said. Wind turbines come from Brazil.
“When are we going to start making something,” he asked. “We have the technology. We have the innovation and the skills to make things happen.” Why design a fleet dependent on foreign assistance? “It makes no sense to me at all.” He said green hydrogen fuel could be made in West Virginia.
People are being enslaved to provide the minerals to make EV batteries, he said, and China doesn’t care about sourcing.
Manchin reiterated his stance on Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to fund the American Jobs Plan. Biden has proposed raising the rate from 21% to 28% but Manchin wants to hold it at what he considers a more competitive 25%, a figure reaching some consensus among Senate Democrats, according to news reports. The 25% figure is projected to bring in about $600 billion across 15 years, Axios reports.
Manchin said getting the IRS back up and running is crucial to collecting taxes that are due. It’s vastly understaffed and $400 billion to $1 trillion isn’t getting collected, businesses aren’t getting audited, he said.
Manchin also reiterated his support for the PRO Act, which would promote union organizing and block right to work laws. He said 50% of startup union efforts fail because companies don’t sit down for contract talks.
The PRO Act, he said, provides fairness in those circumstances where more than 50% of the workers vote to unionize and are stopped. He recounted a conversation with Mylan founder Milan Puskar who said if a plant went union he’d want it all union so there isn’t internal division.
Answering a question from The Dominion Post, he said the PRO Act would supersede state right to work laws, and state attorneys general would likely sue, raising a 10th Amendment challenge.
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