West Virginia's senators differ on local government funding

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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West Virginia's senators have differing views on how-and how much-additional financial relief should be approved by Congress.

Republican Shelley Moore Capito has been a sharp critic of a new stimulus bill passed last week by the Democratic-controlled House, saying much of its provisions have little or nothing to do with COVID-19.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, meanwhile, is promoting a bill he's co-sponsored, providing additional relief to local governments facing budget shortfalls.

"It's a bipartisan bill, and it ensures every county and municipality is going to be treated fairly and equally, and receive the funding mandated to go directly to them within 15 days of getting to the state." Manchin said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

"The bill Senator Manchin is proposing has that element to it (helping local governments), which I agree with," Capito said Wednesday, but it also adds another $500 billion. I'm not interested in adding $500 billion until I'm sure how the first $150 billion has been spent," Capito said Wednesday. "That's a bridge too far for me."

Capito notes she helped introduce a similar bill earlier in May, which also gives states more flexibility in how to spend CARES act money it receives.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has declined to spend $1.2 billion in CARES money the state already got, while the state seeks advice on whether it can use part of that money for its own revenue problems.

The governor this week did advise local governments to contact the state about their financial needs.

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