WASHINGTON, DC (WV News) – On a Friday morning press call, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., shared his thoughts on a variety of bills, including the recent U.S. Family Plan announced by President Joe Biden.
The $ 1.8 trillion plan, proposed by Biden in a speech to Congress on Wednesday, includes national paid family and medical leave, expanded tax cuts for working families, child care reform and two free years of community college for all Americans until 2025.
Manchin did not disclose his thoughts on the price of the plan, although he criticized the high cost of the infrastructure plan recently proposed by Biden.
But the senator has argued for several proposals in the US family plan, mostly free or significantly reduced costs for higher education.
“If we can’t engage in education, I can assure you we’ll be in big trouble,” Manchin said. “Make it affordable. Whether it’s free or not, make it affordable. It is not affordable now for a graduate degree. It is almost impossible with the debt that people are crippled with. When I went to school, everyone could afford it. You could work part-time after school and during the summer and pay for your education without having overwhelming debt. …
“We need to start realizing again that education is not a profitable business. Education should be a service so that our country has the manpower and the “juices”, if you will. … I applaud anything we can do to make it affordable. If they think free education is the only way to go, then we’ll look at that.
However, Manchin was less supportive of other proposals in the US Family Plan, such as one that would provide free education for 3 and 4 year olds across the country.
“For everything they mention there will be a need, but is it something the government should be doing? Manchin asked. “I’ll give you the perfect example. I think West Virginia is one of the leading states in the nation in raising 3-4 year olds – pre-kindergarten – so I want to watch and see how we did it and what a contribution of government we’ve had and if that’s something we should be doing across the country. We are responsible for education in West Virginia. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to educate all of our children … so I want to watch this.
Manchin also gave his opinion on Biden’s speech to Congress this week, saying the president’s speech had a “normalcy” that “America wants.”
This prompted Manchin to discuss his doubts about the cost of Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan.
“I’m looking for a traditional infrastructure bill,” Manchin said. “I don’t think we should have a $ 2.3 trillion bill with all the different topics. … Whether it’s $ 500 billion or $ 600 billion, that’s right, or $ 1,000 billion, we have to pay for it, and we have to make sure that we don’t continue to add to this crippling debt and pass it on to the people. future generations . “
Manchin also spoke about a bill that would make the District of Columbia the 51st state.
The bill passed the House in April, but Manchin said he believed a constitutional amendment would be needed to grant Washington statehood, citing the 23rd Amendment.
“It (the 23rd Amendment) gave DC residents the right to vote in presidential elections, but it complicates DC’s path to a state because Congress had three options to choose from in 1961,” Manchin said. “They could either have statehood in Washington. They could have a retrocession in Maryland. … Or they could have given DC electoral votes … Congress chose, at that point, option three.
“… Bobby Kennedy said in 1963 that Congress and the states embodied this choice in the form of a constitutional amendment. Therefore, it can be argued that the choice can now only be reconsidered by means of another constitutional amendment. He said that we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and it seems to me that he is the one who should answer this question. Let the American people decide.
Fairmont News Editor-in-Chief John Mark Shaver can be reached at 304-844-8485 or [email protected]