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Manchin, Capito air common interests, political differences at WV Chamber Summit

MORGANTOWN – Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito made appearances at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce 2022 Summit on Thursday, cordially airing their common interests and their differences.

They gave separate presentations to the crowd of business leaders gathered at The Greenbrier.

Manchin opened the day’s string of presentations and panels.

“There’s no politics involved when it comes to working for what’s best for West Virginia,” he said.

He thanked the governor’s office and the leaders of his administration for moving the state forward economically and praised the absence of political barriers. “It makes all the difference in the world. When all that happens, it makes good things happen.”

Manchin is Senate Energy chair and mentioned the news of Sparkz Inc. planning to open a vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Taylor County. Achievements like that, along with passage of the CHIPS Act to promote domestic semiconductor manufacturing, he said, mean a time will come we “won’t have to kiss the ring of the Chinese.”

He and Capito are both working with state officials to bring one of the planned hydrogen hubs to the state. “We are going to have a hydrogen hub in West Virginia because we are sitting on an ocean of energy,” he said.

Manchin again defended his support of the Inflation Reduction Act while Capito again panned the bill.

Manchin said, “Putin has basically weaponized energy. We have the resources to be totally energy independent” and help our allies escape Putin’s grasp, he said. “That was the driving force: energy security.”

The bill had to pass without GOP support, he said, because while Republicans supported many of its goals, they opposed the pay-fors in it – the corporate taxes and the 87,000 IRS agents.

“The only way to get yourself out of inflation is you’ve got to work your way out of it,” he said. The IRA will do more in the next 10 years to pave the pathway forward for energy security.

Capito also praised the state’s economic progress. “It’s go time. I think we all feel that way.”

All the good things we’ve known about our state and now being discovered by other people, she said. And the progress crosses political boundaries. “We’re all on the same page when it is good news for West Virginia.”

Federally, she said, Americans have four big concerns right now: inflation, supply chain problems, workforce shortages and the regulatory environment.

Turning to the IRA, she said we can’t keep fanning the inflationary fire with more federal money. The American Rescue Plan added 4 points to the rate and the IRA will add more.

On the energy side, the IRA is lopsided toward green expansion and puts more taxes on coal production.

Regarding the IRS, she said that last year, the IRS was empowered to hire 10,000 new customer service agents nd could only scrape up 1,500 due to the workforce issues every employer is facing. So how they’re going to hire 87,000 people she doesn’t know.

“I’m very concerned about the direction I think this bill is going to take us,” she said.

Despite their disagreement on the IRA, they’ve know each other a long time and will keep working together, she said. Gayle Manchin was in the audience and Capito told the story of herself and Joe Manchin standing together at the ceremony honoring Woody Williams, and someone coming up and offering his sympathies to Joe and the person he thought was Gayle, which caused some embarrassment for Joe.

Capito wrapped up with some comments on the state’s tourism growth and the already visible benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which she and Manchin both supported.

Money is coming in, she said for roads, wastewater, well capping, airports and broadband. “Every West Virginian should be proud of the efforts that are going on to improve our infrastructure.”

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