When I was sworn in as the United States Senator for West Virginia, I knew I had big shoes to fill. Senator Robert C. Byrd was a giant in the Senate, known for his work on the Appropriations Committee which brought funding opportunities and projects to West Virginia. Today, I am proud to hold the seat of the great Senator and I take my responsibility to carry on his legacy as a member of the Appropriations Committee seriously.
Since my time as Governor, I have made sure that our state has a track record of working with businesses and federal partners long after their initial investment to ensure that they not only grow and thrive in our state, but also assist in recruiting other stakeholders to West Virginia. Federal partners like the FBI and NASA, and businesses like Infor and N3 stay because we show them West Virginia is the perfect location for commerce and West Virginians are the hardest working people in America.
Now as Senator, I use Senator Byrd’s legacy as guidance on how to fight for West Virginia in Washington. That is why I am proud to announce that through my position on the Appropriations Committee, working across the aisle with my colleagues, our state received 467 grants and loans from the federal government in 2019, totaling $667 million in funding for our state.
In the past year, West Virginia not only secured major funding for projects such as $100 million to complete the last section of Corridor H and $5.6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve broadband access across our state, but also important projects that better the lives of our citizens like Martinsburg receiving $341,000 to expand affordable housing options and Salem University receiving $231,000 to expand telehealth services for rural West Virginians.
This funding has touched every corner of our state from the coalfields to the panhandles with the Wheeling fire department awarded $723,000 to support our brave firefighters and the Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority receiving $6 million to increase public bus access. These are just a few of the major wins for our state that will benefit our communities for decades to come.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have the opportunity to work with my colleague Senator Capito to advocate for programs and funding that help West Virginia grow, and it is common practice in our committee to set partisan politics aside and do what is best for each member’s state. From expanding grant opportunities to robust funding for federal facilities in the state, the Appropriations Committee oversees key funding legislation every year that includes priorities of West Virginia. After the funding legislation has been approved, my office advocates for West Virginia businesses and organizations that apply for funding by ensuring that groups know about funding opportunities, writing letters of support for their applications, and ensuring that rural areas like West Virginia have a fair chance to compete for funding.
Every day, I fight for West Virginia’s priorities like highways, reliable broadband access, ending children and youth homelessness and combatting the opioid epidemic so that our state can compete for funding to better our communities and our state. Through hundreds of programs, from Head Start to clean drinking water infrastructure, each program helps West Virginians every day. I am proud to represent our wild and wonderful state in Washington, and I promise to always put West Virginia first because these successes are only possible when we put partisan politics aside and come together to do what is best for our state and this country.
Manchin (D-W.Va.) is the state’s senior senator in the U.S. Congress.