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Capito fields questions on Build Back Better, inflation under President Biden

MORGANTOWN – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., fielded questions from members of the West Virginia press Thursday. Several of them dealt with the newly scaled-down Build Back Better framework and ongoing inflation under the Biden administration.

She started off noting some issues raised during Wednesday’s GOP leadership press conference. Among them, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts a slightly colder winter than last year and significantly higher home heating prices: propane expenditures will rise by 54%, heating oil by 43%, natural gas by 30% and electricity by 6%.

“This is very, very concerning to me for West Virginia,” she said. “Those extra hundred dollars are really going to break the backs of the most needy and most needed West Virginians.” Biden’s only response to her requests for him to do something was to ask OPEC and Russia to produce more fuel, when we could do it ourselves.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill – she calls it BIF – passed by the Senate during the summer has been stalled in the House as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the progressive wing of the Democrats tie its passage to Build Back Better, she said.

Pelosi is now working on gathering votes to get BIF passed soon, Capito said. “She’ll be failing the country if this bill doesn’t pass. And Capito is frustrated because infrastructure projects could already be underway.

Build Back Better has been trimmed from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, but remains problematic, Capito said. “I’m very concerned about some of the green energy provisions that are in here,” she said. They could disadvantage power production and manufacturing in the state. And inflation will eat up much of the extended child tax credit for families.

Capito was asked why $1.75 trillion is the new magic number. She believes it’s mostly about satisfying the left wing of the party, she said.

“These programs have not been vetted out, the need has not been determined,” she said. “Tell me what the programs are and then we’ll tell you what the need is and then we’ll figure out how much this all costs. It’s almost like spending money for spending money’s sake.”

And it’s a distraction when we have the border crisis, inflation at the gas pump and grocery store, and a workforce with many not interested in going back to work, she said.

“There are so many other things that we should be dealing with besides a wish list of green energy and social programs … that we know once they get into place are very difficult if not impossible to remove.” She would rather just move forward with BIF.

Capito also took a follow-up question about what the GOP would do about energy price inflation if they were in Biden’s place.

They would more fully embrace this country’s own natural resources, she said. Biden has paused oil and gas leasing on federal lands, stopped Keystone XL, stalled pipeline permits and curbed coal and nuclear power growth with regulations.

“So I think what we would do is definitely make sure we become self-reliant again.”

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