The Times West Virginian

Opinion

October 18, 2012

McKinley makes impact in House, earns opportunity to return to D.C.

Things have changed in two years.

And the minds of this editorial board have changed since then. Because, as the old saying goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Sometimes things untried and untested are underestimated.

And we believe that is the case with U.S. Rep. David McKinley.

Two years ago, when the longtime state lawmaker and engineer was running for the 1st Congressional District seat, he did not receive our endorsement. But everything he’s done since winning the seat and taking office makes us gladly give it to him today.

The Republican lawmaker has made an impact with his colleagues, the leadership of the House and on the voters of this district. He has a common-sense approach to the biggest problems that face this country — he’s an engineer, after all, and as he says only one of two in the House — and he makes his voice heard on those issues.

Consider what happened when he had the opportunity to ask questions of Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu earlier this year during a committee meeting. McKinley charged Chu with going away from the principles that founded the DOE in 1977 because federal mandates are shutting down small energy-producing plants nationwide, including three FirstEnergy plants in North Central West Virginia.

“I’m concerned in whether or not you have a real interest in reigning in a rogue agency (the Environmental Protection Agency) that is allowing this kind of activity without it based on science or an agreeable comprehensive knowledge of how all of the other people are looking at it across America,” he told Chu on March 9 during the hearing.

“I go back to a statement you made in 2007 — ‘Coal is my worst nightmare,’” McKinley said. “Is that the mindset of why as a short-term goal, you’ve abandoned that in cutting research money? A 41-percent reduction in R&D in coal?

“I’m in awe. I just cannot comprehend where this administration and you and your leadership are with it,” McKinley said. “With all due respect, Mr. Secretary, I think the DOE and the EPA have become the ‘worst nightmare’ for the working men and women in our coal fields across America.”

How easy would it be for a junior congressman from the majority party to sit back and get the lay of the land, make friends and allies, and take advantage of his party’s position?

Instead, what we’ve observed during McKinley’s two years in office is a leader who works across party lines, who has developed relationships with other West Virginia leaders, who makes the stands he needs to when it’s best for the residents of his district.

And that’s happened with the coal issue, as demonstrated by his “pressing” of Secretary Chu in committee.

And it happened with the transportation bill, when McKinley pointed out that the EPA desire to regulate coal fly ash as a toxic byproduct would come with a dramatic cost increase to concrete, as it is a key ingredient in the mixture, and severely limit the number of roadways and spans funded under the bill.

And it happened when the budgets of NASA and the National Energy Technology Laboratory were threatened. Those are two major federal agencies with huge presences in this district. He vowed to continue to support the federal agencies and contracts that make the high-tech sector strong in North Central West Virginia.

“There are so many people who just talk in Washington, but what are you doing?” McKinley said earlier this year. “I’m there to get something done. And I’m going to break from my party when I think it is right to break from them. I’ve done that. I know we’ve got to make some reductions, but I don’t want to do it on clean-coal research, high-tech and (NASA) IV&V. I don’t want to do it on biometrics. This is our future. This is where we are going to be as a state.”

We believe that McKinley has an eye on our future, and will continue to work for the 1st District and West Virginia as a whole if elected to a second term in the House. And because of that, McKinley is fully endorsed by the Times West Virginian for the 1st Congressional District seat.

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