U.S. Senate candidate: Joe Manchin (D)
NAME: Joe Manchin
CANDIDATE FOR: United States Senate
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: JoeManchinWV.com
HOME CITY: Fairmont
HOME COUNTY: Marion County
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I’m running to bring more jobs and opportunity to West Virginia. I’m running again because we must protect seniors’ access to Medicare and Social Security, fight the epidemic of drug addiction, secure the pensions of our coal miners, promote jobs and skills training centers, invest in infrastructure, keep the commitments we’ve made to our Veterans, seniors and children, and grow new industries. I’ll never stop fighting for the people of the Mountain State. I’ll never stop fighting for the people of the Mountain State.
EDUCATION: West Virginia University, Business Administration 1970.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: U.S. Senator
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Small business owner; West Virginia House of Delegates (31st District), 1982 to 1984; West Virginia Senate (14th District), 1986 to 1992; West Virginia Senate (13th District), 1992 to 1996; Secretary of State of West Virginia, 2001 to 2005; Governor of West Virginia, 2005 to 2010
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Vice Chair, Senate Democratic Policy Committee; No Labels, Co-chair; Co-chair, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; Honorary member of UMWA Local 1440; Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Veterans Affairs Committee; Energy Committee; Intelligence Committee.
FAMILY: wife, Gayle; and three children.
1. What measures would you take to address the budget deficit and the national debt?
I’ve always supported a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We have it in West Virginia and Washington needs it. We need to grow American jobs by renegotiating unfair trade deals that ship jobs overseas. By growing American jobs we will increase revenue to reduce the deficit. Major tax breaks to multinational corporations, that we can’t afford, need to stop.
2. What steps do you think Congress should take to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all Americans?
Total repeal of the Affordable Care Act would hurt working families; but we need to repair it. There must be greater accountability and preventative care services tied to Medicaid expansion. I support a bipartisan fix to stabilize the health insurance markets and lower costs. My opponents want to strip coverage from 200,000 West Virginians and bankrupt rural hospitals.
3. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see the role of Congress in addressing this crisis?
The FDA must reduce the approvals of opioids coming on the market — we have enough. The DEA needs the tools to crack down on suspicious pill shipments. Doctors need improved prescription guidelines for painkillers. West Virginia needs mandatory educational classes on the effects of opiates for students in all grades. Also, more funding for addiction prevention, treatment, law enforcement, and holding drug companies accountable.
4. What measures could help prevent gun violence and mass shootings?
We must address mental illness and prevent the mentally ill from having access to weapons with a commonsense background check. I’ve teamed up with Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) to propose background check legislation that applies to commercial transactions - not those between family, friends, and neighbors - and also strengthens the instant check system.
5. What measures do you favor on background checks for gun purchases?
Many West Virginia sportsmen and I agree that background checks on internet sales and gun shows are appropriate. Under the Manchin-Toomey bill, transfers between family, friends, and neighbors do not require background checks. I will not support legislation that seeks to require federal government approval for private firearm transfers that are not advertised commercially over the internet or as part of a gun show.
6. How do you think coal fits into the United States’ energy policy?
West Virginia remains the second largest producer of coal in the nation, as well as a net energy exporter and coal is the fuel that reliably powered our nation to prosperity. We need to continue the use of coal for reliable baseload electric generation, the production of metallurgical coal for domestic steel and for exports, and the enhancement of our nation’s energy security.
7. With the increased incidence of black lung disease in recent years, does more need to be done to protect miners’ health and safety?
Coal miners need more protections; not less. I strongly oppose rolling back the respirable dust rule. A recent increase in Black Lung is exactly why we need improved safety and health regulations like the respirable dust rule. MSHA must have the funding and tools to keep miners safe on the job.
8. Do you support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline?
Yes. What this country needs is more jobs, and that is why I have always been a proponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline and was an original cosponsor of legislation approving the project. Multiple studies have shown that the Keystone XL pipeline is a job creator and would limit our dependence on foreign oil and transported oil in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.
9. What can you do on the federal level to improve the economic situation in West Virginia?
Rural broadband connectivity is possible, and I will continue to pass laws to get that accomplished to support WV jobs. We must also keep our workforce drug-free. I will continue to fight the federal government’s overreaching and redundant rules that hamper businesses ability to succeed. I will promote jobs and skills training centers to help those who have lost their jobs get new ones.
10. Do you support a reduction in Medicaid coverage?
We need to administer Medicaid in a more responsible way and protect funding for those in need. Patients must be more accountable and taught how to use their health care in a more responsible manner. I fought to protect health care coverage for 200,000 West Virginians and keep our rural hospitals open. My opponents would dismantle coverage for working families and bankrupt rural hospitals.
11. Do you support immigration reform? What, if any, changes would you make?
We need comprehensive immigration reform that starts by securing our southern border and provides a pathway for the best and brightest to become part of the United States. I voted for a bipartisan immigration plan in 2013 that includes $42 billion for border security — including a wall, more technology, and more border agents. Political gridlock stopped it from being passed.
12. What are the United States’ essential security interests and needed outcomes with North Korea?
We need to denuclearize North Korea and every unstable country in the world. The United States can’t tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of countries that want to use them purely for war and destruction. We need to focus on keeping America safe, which is why I supported sanctions on North Korea and opposed Obama’s terrible Iran deal.
13. Do you favor more federal aid to states to upgrade equipment and systems in order to protect election procedures?
Yes. We need to do more to protect the integrity of our elections and states like West Virginia need support from the federal government. We should not tolerate any foreign country interfering with our election process. States must also take steps to secure their elections.
14. Should the federal government provide more funds for broadband in underserved areas? Why or why not?
President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought electricity to rural communities in the 1930’s and today we need a similar push for broadband. Rural broadband connectivity is necessary and the federal government needs to help build this critical infrastructure. It’s essential that businesses, entrepreneurs, and students are connected to the world and have the tools they need to compete around the globe.
15. Do you think the outline for infrastructure improvements from President Trump can be effective? Why or why not?
It’s vague and I want to work with President Trump on an infrastructure bill that’s good for West Virginia and creates jobs. The outline relies heavily on state funding and public-private partnerships to fix our roads and bridges. The federal government must step up with major funding because West Virginia taxpayers can’t afford to shoulder all of the costs of upgrading our infrastructure.
16. What role should the U.S. government play in ensuring healthcare access for all?
We need to fix our healthcare system because it isn’t working for everyone. I support bipartisan solutions to stabilize the health insurance markets and lower costs. There must be greater accountability and preventative care services tied to Medicaid expansion. What we can’t do is let the insurance companies play God and deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, which is what
17. In building a vibrant U.S. economy, would you emphasize reforming tax policies, addressing income inequality, or something else? What specific economic growth measures would you support?
You can’t have a strong economy without a strong education system; it’s why I’ve always supported investments in public education. I will keep pushing for skills training centers to help West Virginians develop career and educational opportunities. I will continue to pass laws to make rural broadband a reality, and I’ll continue to fight Washington’s overreaching rules that hamper businesses.
18. What modifications to safety net/benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare would you support?
I have never and will never vote to cut Social Security or Medicare. I will always protect Social Security and Medicare for West Virginia’s seniors. My opponent, Patrick Morrisey, believes that we need to privatize Social Security and cut Medicare. I think that we need to lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical.