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Manchin, Capito address business leaders at West Virginia Chamber of Commerce summit


White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. – West Virginia’s two U.S. Senators this week briefed the annual gathering of business leaders about the top issues on Capitol Hill.

Attendees of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce 87th Annual Meeting and Business Summit at the Greenbrier Resort heard from Sen. Joe Manchin Thursday morning and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito Wednesday afternoon.

Manchin, D-W.Va., promoted the successes of the $737 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which just recently celebrated its one-year anniversary since it was signed by President Joe Biden. Manchin helped negotiate the Inflation Reduction Act with the White House and democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

“To my Republican colleagues, for the last four or five years I’ve been talking … and we’ve always talked about ‘hey guys, we have to pay down debt. Guess what the Inflation Reduction Act did? More than $238 billion went to debt. You never hear anyone talk about that.”

Biden has referred to his domestic policy proposals since first taking office in 2021 as Bidenomics, which includes the passage of the $1.2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Inflation is at its lowest rate since September 2021, but it remains higher than normal and has ticked up slightly to 4.2% in July, up from 4.1% in June.

Capito, R-W.Va., quoted Biden, who recently said he regretted naming it the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The president talks about Bidenomics as a good thing. I see it as paying more and you’re getting less,” Capito said. “The inflation numbers have come down but remember they’re still up. It’s not all the way down, and it’s reflected in all your businesses, your materials, when you’re driving your trucks and doing deliveries, when you’re billing for this one thing or another. This high supply-chain costs are reflected all over the economic spectrum.

"I’m worried about the economy in general,” Capito continued. “When I go to the grocery store, which I do often, and I have conversations. What is it? It’s the cost of bread, the cost of milk. The cost to get out of the grocery store is so much more than it has been.”

The Senate has been on summer recess for the last several weeks, giving lawmakers valuable time to return to their districts or perform fact-finding trips.

Capito recently received defense briefings during an overseas trip to Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and Fiji, with an all-woman delegation of members of both the Senate and House of Delegates. The focus of the briefings was the growing militarization of the pacific region by China and continued threats to nearby Taiwan.

“This is a serious situation about a country that doesn’t share our values that wants to destroy our way of life and the economies of Indo-China,” Capito said. “We have to keep our eye certainly on this.”

Both Manchin and Capito are members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, which helps steer federal funding and budget requests. Capito said more funding needs directed to military readiness, particularly for naval forces in the Pacific.

"In the appropriations sector, we have to make sure our military is well-prepared, trained, and we have the equipment and the technologies to move forward,” Capito said. “This is a fight that won’t be a traditional fight like we see in Ukraine right now. If it ever comes to this, it will be in cybersecurity, it will be in space, it will be on the seas.”

Manchin warned that the nation’s supply chains need more independence from China, especially for semiconductors. Manchin said the CHIPS and Science Act, passed in 2022, would encourage domestic manufacturing of semiconductors and other critical technology.

“When you have countries that don’t have your same values … we’re just not going to depend on them for a supply chain that we have to have to run this country,” Manchin said. “The CHIPS Act will bring all of this back to America. We’re doing everything we can. We’re investing, and there’s more investments coming than ever before. And we will be able to be self-sufficient for the computer chips we need.”

Manchin and Capito said federal lawmakers are still working on the next steps for permitting reform for pipelines, energy projects and infrastructure. Some permitting reform proposals were included in the debt ceiling deal, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, passed in June, but both Manchin and Capito said more needs to be done.

“In order to build something new, build a road, repair a bridge, set a water line, put a broadband tower up, put a (electric) grid up, you have to have it permitted,” Capito said. “We need more transmission lines and pipelines.”

“It’s got to be done,” Manchin said. “We’ve done some of it, a little bit. But we need judicial reform. We need basically transmission and pipeline reform. We need all of these reforms so we can get things done. It’s going to be tough. There is no easy lift here. But we’ve been able to rise to the occasion before and we can do it again. I truly believe with all of my heart that we have the ability.”


Story by Steven Allen Adams, Parkersburg News and Sentinel



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