By: Martha SparksSociety Editor
January 4, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was sworn in Thursday for a full six-year term in the Senate. Manchin was appointed to Senate following the death of Robert C. Byrd, and was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2010.
Manchin issued a statement that outlined his priorities and agenda for the 113th Congress.
“As we begin the work of the 113th Congress, I start with a fresh optimism and determination to put our country’s fiscal house in order. I truly believe that we can – because the simple fact is we must. I have spent the past two years working for a ‘big fix’ and I will spend every day of this term working for a big fix,” Manchin said. “On top of that, I will continue to fight for my top priorities: keeping our promises to our seniors and veterans, achieving energy independence, addressing mass violence and ending the war in Afghanistan.
“As I reflect on the swearing-in today, I am so honored that the people of West Virginia have allowed me to serve and represent them in our nation’s capital. I vow to each and every one of you that every day that I am your Senator, I will put our great state first. And after the nonsense of the past few years, it’s more clear than ever that the Hill needs a good dose of commonsense from the mountains of West Virginia.”
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) spoke of Manchin’s pride and dedication to West Virginia.
“Senator Manchin and I share a genuine pride for West Virginia and an unwavering dedication to the people of our state. During his time here, he has proven that he is a strong, independent voice for West Virginia. I’ve enjoyed working with him, and look forward to continuing to work beside him to pave the way to a brighter future for West Virginia. I’m proud of all he has done for our state and wish him the best in his new term,” said Rockefeller.
Also taking his oath of office on Thursday was U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
Rahall was sworn-in for his 19th term in the U.S. House of Representatives and expressed his hope that the new 113th Congress would do better than its predecessor in putting the good of the country above partisan politics.
“Too many times, the last Congress allowed itself to become bogged down in frustrating legislative gridlock. Historically noncontroversial measures that were essential to the economic well-being of our Nation became victims of partisan stunts and bickering that forced the Congress to lurch from one self-concocted crisis to another, hurting job growth and eroding the American people’s faith in their government — this must not be allowed to become the norm in the new Congress. On the many issues crying out for Congressional action, there’s no reason why the Congress cannot reach an agreement and get its job done,” said Rahall.
Rahall noted his top priority for the coming Congress remains job creation and economic growth in southern West Virginia.
“There is no higher priority for me than establishing a thriving economy for the people of southern West Virginia. Now is the time to address the needs of our aging highways and bridges, water and wastewater treatment systems. They are tried and true tonics for ailing economies and proven job producers. Do this and we not only grow the economy, we sustain and create jobs and help balance the budget. Infrastructure initiatives, in West Virginia and throughout the country, can help bridge the divide between the two parties and provide a roadmap to get America moving again,” said Rahall, the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the Congress.
Rahall noted that $1 billion in transportation investments sustains or creates nearly 35,000 jobs nationwide. Every dollar spent on road, highway, and bridge improvements returns an average benefit of $5.20 by reducing delays, vehicle maintenance costs, fuel consumption, road and bridge maintenance costs, and emissions, as well as improved safety — all as a result of improved traffic flow.
“We must take advantage of the breathing room provided by the passage of last year’s highway reauthorization bill and craft a robust long-term, legislative vehicle to address our Nation’s and West Virginia’s many critical infrastructure needs. Our State has major highway projects to complete, such as Routes 2, 10 and 35, the I-73/74 Tolsia / King Coal Highway, the Coalfields Expressway, and the Z-Way, to name a few. We have important transit cornerstones to complete in downtown Beckley and Bluefield. Our airports have plans for growth, and, with game changers like the Boy Scouts of America taking root here, having the infrastructure in place to meet growing demand is a basic necessity.”
With the Congress preparing to continue the budgetary battles of the previous Congress, Rahall expressed his desire to find a way to reduce the deficit while still protecting the vital services that West Virginians rightly expect from their government.
“In the continuing debates on how to balance our spending priorities, Congress must provide for the basic services and investments the people expect. We cannot allow our infrastructure, the bedrock of America’s long-term economic strength, to crumble and sacrifice generations of public investment. Certainly, I will continue fighting against unfair tax increases and spending cuts that would harm our State’s economy and West Virginia households, including our seniors, working families, and small businesses, as well as our active-duty troops, military retirees, and veterans who have already sacrificed so much for our Nation.”