Manchin: Rank and file members must push Senate leaders

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Lawmakers in Washington D. C. appear at an impasse as the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits has ended. New claims for the extra amount cannot be submitted, but unpaid claims filed before this week will be honored.

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town U. S. Senator Joe Manchin said he and his colleagues are in agreement about most things except the dollar amount of the additional weekly unemployment benefit in the next coronavirus relief package.

“Talking to our colleagues on the Republican side and on the Democrat side back-and-forth, we’re not that far a part I don’t believe when you hear rank and file talk,”Manchin said,”But, when you hear leadership. they’re not even talking to each other and that’s the problem, but I think they’ll be forced to do something next week.”

Thursday night the White House offered a temporary extension of the extra $600 that was rejected as “worthless” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Manchin expressed concern for West Virginia families and the lasting scars the pandemic may leave.

“We’re throwing families into this disarray, you have have a COVID pandemic on top of an opioid epidemic, and just with that the disfunction of families today,”Manchin said,”We’re leaving kids behind.”

Manchin believes an audit of what has spent so far and a review of proposed bills that could be added should be completed.

One specific bill would dedicate $160 million for rural broadband, one that Manchin says would be vital for online learners and the expansion of Telehealth in the Mountain State.

“We’re defined as a total rural state, which we are, and with that there has been $175 billion that was supposed to go to hospitals in the first traunch of money, $113 billion went out the door, only $11 billion went to rural hospitals”Manchin said,Now, they’re putting in another $25 billion for hospitals, no dedication for rural.

Manchin pointed out the recent closure of three hospitals that serve the Mountain State-The Fairmont Regional Medical Center, Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry, Ohio.

“These are things that have been left out completely and we’re trying to correct that, trying to get a group together,”Manchin said,”Hopefully we can do that next week.”

Manchin said it will be up to the rank and file members of the U. S. Senate to make leadership move.

“If we leave it up to the leaders who don’t even seem to talk to each other, let alone like each other, we’re not going to get anything accomplished,”Manchin said,”If McConnell and Schumer aren’t speaking, if their staffs aren’t working collaboratively to get something accomplished, it is difficult.”