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December 12, 2013

Manchin backs budget agreement

‘Everyone recognizes it is a positive movement’

FAIRMONT — Sen. Joe Manchin stated Wednesday that he will be voting in favor of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 when it reaches the U.S. Senate, which could be as early as the weekend.

The budget deal came out of bipartisan talks and was announced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., late Tuesday.

If the deal passes, it will help avert a government shutdown for two years and will also replace some of the across-the-board sequester cuts with more targeted reforms and cuts in 2014 and 2015. It calls for $63 billion in sequestration relief split evenly between defense and non-defense. It also includes provisions to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in government programs.

The White House has commended the deal, stating that the bill will allow for “critical investments in areas such as education, infrastructure and scientific research, while keeping the nation on the path to long-term deficit reduction.”

While the deal will only postpone the threat of further government sequestration for two years, Manchin in a conference call with state reporters said that it is “moving in the right direction.”

“No one is enamored with it, but everyone recognizes it is a positive movement,” Manchin said. “The easiest thing I could do is vote no. But the bottom line is that doesn’t fix anything.”

Manchin stated that the bill “has more of an appearance of a two-year budget than anything we’ve done since President Obama has been president.”

Manchin said that among the additional reforms he would like to see is additional limits placed on the amount contractors can be reimbursed by the federal government and sweeping tax reform.

“Eventually, we’ll need to face the realization that we need to do a bigger fix,” Manchin said.

“We need corporate and personal tax reform,” Manchin said. “You have corporations as American as apple pie, and they’ve taken advantage of the tax code and moved their revenue off-shore. That’s not fair, it’s not right, and it’s not American.”

Manchin stated the budget bill would be a “start,” though he was skeptical that a bigger deal is on the near horizon.

The House, which is only in session through Friday, could vote on the bill as early as today, and Manchin said the Senate could vote as early as the weekend.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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