Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP’s Patrick Gaspard Explains How Build Back Better Will Benefit West Virginians
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP’s Patrick Gaspard Explains How Build Back Better Will Benefit West Virginians

Washington, D.C. — After months of indicating that he would support the Build Back Better Act, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced today that he has reversed his position. Following this announcement, Patrick Gaspard, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:

While we are extremely disappointed in Sen. Manchin’s statements this morning, his remarks do not change the fact that a majority of the American people support this legislation. It is unthinkable that one man would stand in the way of help for families and caregivers and block significant investments in the necessary transition to a green economy—a transition our current approach is failing to execute fast enough.

Sen. Manchin says that he cannot explain to his constituents what is in the Build Back Better Act and he says that lawmakers need to be clear about their priorities. Here is how Sen. Manchin’s state would benefit from Build Back Better:

  • A West Virginia family with two young kids, earning roughly $40,000, would stand to save nearly $10,000 per year under Build Back Betteron health care, child care, and more.
  • Without Build Back Better, the typical health insurance marketplace enrollee in West Virginia would pay about $1,000 more each year on premiums for health insurance.
  • West Virginia has the third-highest share of residents over age 65 in the entire nation. One in 3 adults in the state have a disability, which is higher than the U.S. average. West Virginia would disproportionately benefit from investments in home- and community-based services to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities can get the care and support they need.
  • Home health aides in West Virginia also make just $10 per hour, despite the state needing to fill 30,000 of these same jobs in the next decade to meet demand. It is going to be near-impossible to do so without the investments in this legislative package. Investing in home- and community-based services is also an effective way to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, as 1 in 3 COVID-19 deaths nationwide have been linked to long-term care facilities. 
  • In West Virginia, just 9 percent of children under age 6—or 5,664 in total—currently receive subsidized child care. Under Build Back Better, more than 94 percent of West Virginia kids from working families would be eligible for free or reduced-cost child care—an increase of nearly 54,000 children.
  • Under Build Back Better, the typical family in West Virginia would see their weekly child care costs fall roughly by half—from $198 to $96easing financial pressures on families and helping parents afford to remain in the workforce.
  • The Build Back Better Act is fiscally responsible, will not add to the deficit, and will reduce inflationary pressures over time. 

What’s difficult to explain are the dangerous and outright false claims that Sen. Manchin made about Build Back Better and the electrical grid. The bill includes funding to modernize the grid as the United States move toward a clean energy economy. These investments are technologically sound and will help avert future grid failures, such as the catastrophic one in Texas earlier this year. We know that the climate crisis waits for no one, and every day that we delay investing in clean energy is one day closer to irreparable harm to the planet. We also know that millions of Americans cannot wait for more affordable prescription drugs and access to affordable child care.

The numerous ways that Build Back Better would benefit West Virginians, the future of clean and reliable energy, and the planet are easy to explain. But we cannot explain why Sen. Manchin chose to walk away from the negotiating table right as the Senate is leaving town and as millions of families are on the verge of being cut off from the expanded child tax credit program. We also cannot explain why Sen. Manchin chose to make this announcement on Fox News, rather than directly to his colleagues who thought that he was negotiating in good faith. What we do know is that the American people need and deserve better, and making the wealthiest corporations that currently pay nothing in taxes pay their fair share will make our country stronger.

So after months of good faith negotiations, and scores of analyses of the ways in which Build Back Better will benefit West Virginia and the country, Sen. Manchin’s constituents need him to state clearly what his priorities are in this time of great need.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at jcusick@americanprogress.org.