Special message to West Virginians from Sen. Joe Manchin
To My Fellow
Over the last two weeks, there have been many reports and speculation about my future ranging from whether I will leave the Senate to join the Trump Administration to whether I will even stay a Democrat. I wanted to address you directly to discuss the reasons I decided to stay in the Senate, and why, as a proud West Virginia Democrat, I am committed to working with the President-elect to fight for West Virginia.
A few days after the election, I was honored to receive a call from President-elect Donald Trump. We had a wide-ranging and constructive conversation about the future of our country and how we can work together to help the state of West Virginia. I was proud when he told me that he had heard I was a Senator willing to put partisan politics aside to do what’s right for the people I serve, and we discussed the need to expand that approach in Washington.
He followed up our initial discussion with an invitation to speak with him directly at Trump Tower. I heard the same reports as others that the President-elect was considering me for a variety of roles in the cabinet, and I was honored to be a part of that discussion. I was honored not because of the personal accolades that come with being a Cabinet Secretary but because I believe it was a sign that the President-elect recognized that I was a constructive force in the Senate someone he could work with to bring people together and get things done.
Unfortunately, we had to reschedule my meeting twice because I had to stay in Washington and fight for the Miners Protection Act- to preserve benefits and pensions of our loyal, hardworking coal miners. While I was excited for our discussion, I had a duty to stay in Washington and fight for the hardworking miners of our state. I stayed and used every tactic I could to convince my colleagues that we needed to keep our commitment and promise to the miners who have never broken their promise to us.
To my surprise and disappointment, the House of Representatives passed a flawed four-month extension of healthcare coverage for miners and decided to go on vacation for the holidays on December 9th. I stayed and fought as long as I could. I am proud to say that Senator Capito stood right by my side. Sadly, we did not get what we wanted, but we did secure a commitment from the Majority Leader to address this issue before their health care runs out in April. I wanted action, not promises, but I assure you this is not a fight we will give up.
After the Senate recessed, I went to New York to meet with President-elect Trump. I was honored that the President-elect asked me to meet with him, and I was humbled to be considered for the Secretary of Energy position. During our meeting, we built on our previous discussion and talked about the key issues facing our state like addressing our infrastructure needs, building an energy policy that powers our nation reliably and affordably, passing the Miners Protection Act, keeping faith with our veterans, and working together to put our miners back to work. We agreed to be partners in this effort, not as a Republican President and Democratic Senator, but as two men who care more about their country more than their party.
After the meeting, I talked with the President-elect’s team and told them that while I appreciated their consideration, I still had work to do in the Senate for the people of West Virginia. Of course, part of me was interested to be a Cabinet Secretary, but my heart is and has always been in West Virginia. I simply couldn’t leave when there was so much work left to do.
And there is much work left to do. We need to pass a long-term solution for our retired miners’ healthcare and pensions. We need to get our miners back to work. We need to create a diverse and thriving economy. We need to end the opioid epidemic. We need to improve our infrastructure. We need to pass an all-of-the-above energy policy. We need to keep our promises to our veterans. We need to create jobs and pass policies that spur economic growth in West Virginia. As long as there is work to be done, I won’t stop fighting for West Virginians in Washington.
But this fight for progress shouldn’t pit us against each other. I’m a proud West Virginia Democrat, but far more importantly, I am a proud American and West Virginian. I am going to work with the President to make our state and country successful, because his success is our success. My job as a Senator representing the great state of West Virginia is to put you first. That has always been and will always be my commitment to you.