West Virginia’s centric Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is trying to delay a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, advising no action until 2022. But his fellow Mountaineers - with Black women leading - aren’t letting him off the hook so easily.
Stay tuned! Our BBG reporter Leeshia Lee will interview Dr. Sonia Armstrong, Naomi Cohen, Katonya Hart, Loretta Young, Takeiya Smith, Deedra Keys Switzer and the many more West Virginia Black women and allies who are in or on their way to DC.
Young West Virginia, Race Matters WV, The Center for Popular Democracy Action, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Greenpeace USA began demonstrating outside Manchin’s D.C. residence on Monday, September 27.
“Don’t sink West Virginia,” signs read outside his $700,000 Almost Heaven luxury yacht/houseboat, along with “no climate no deal” and “BBB brings jobs to WV.”
(For boat context, read this fact-check from our friends at 100 Days in Appalachia and watch this ad from Senate Republicans, both from 2018.)
In Flotilla at Joe Manchin’s Yacht Tells Him He Won’t Sink Our Bill, writer Tyler Kruse writes, “[he] needs to realize that the fossil fuel industry is about to keel over and we refuse to let it drag the rest of us down with it. Manchin has repeatedly tried to drop anchor on this critical deal to protect his own fossil fuel and corporate interests. It’s time to put the interests of working-class Americans, for whom this important investment in roads, bridges, health care, safe drinking water and clean energy is a matter of life or death, first.”
According to Greenpeace, the Build Back Better Act is an ambitious plan to tackle the climate crisis, create jobs, cut taxes, and lower costs for working families – all paid for by making the tax code fairer and making the wealthiest and large corporations pay their fair share.
Mounting pressure on Manchin to pass the bill is critical, organizers emphasize.
From Loretta Young, Executive Director of Race Matters WV:
“West Virginians have been trying to reach Sen. Manchin every way we know how to tell him we need this bill to bring jobs to WV, to extend the Child Tax Credit for our families, to expand access to healthcare, to fund the home care our elderly and disabled community members deserve. 79% of West Virginians want this bill! And yet, Sen. Manchin is still blocking it. He’s not listening to us, he’s listening to Big Money. That’s why we’re here at his yacht in DC today. The faith community back in WV is now praying and fasting throughout the month of September. When human intervention doesn’t do the job, what else is there but divine intervention?”
From Takeiya Smith, Executive Director of Young West Virginia:
“In West Virginia, it’s no secret that we need jobs, we need healthcare, we need to get ahead of the transition to clean energy, we need lower prescription drug prices. And the reconciliation bill provides for all that at no cost! It’s paid for by taxing the rich and big corporations, and letting Medicare negotiate drug prices. This is the moment to deliver a historic package to West Virginians and all Americans, and we need Sen. Manchin to move it forward, not hold it back. We’ve been in the streets and in his offices in WV, and now we’re here in DC, at his yacht, to tell him to listen to his constituents. Pass this bill.”
READ: ‘Protestors demonstrate outside Manchin’s houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package,’ published late Monday night by The Hill.
And what news source did they plug halfway through the story, straight from the Mountain state? By God, it was BBG!
Sahil Kapur @sahilkapurMANCHIN on $3.5T bill: "We're just concerned about entitlement mentality versus rewarding mentality and then taking care of those who really can't take care of themselves... there's so much good stuff in there that we’re still working diligently." via @LACaldwellDC @JulieNBCNews
In the article, author Mychael Schnell includes, “Greenpeace USA also said Monday was the first day of flotilla protests outside Manchin’s houseboat, signaling that more demonstrations could come in the future.”
We’re here to tell Joe Manchin that he will absolutely be sharing the sea.
Rough waters are now inevitably welcomed by constituents, who are disappointed in the senator’s lack of political imagination beyond Republican appeasement and indifference to change.
The same day demonstrations started by sea, reporter Sahil Kapur shared evidence of this apathetic approach to community investment on Twitter; providing a glimpse into why Manchin’s interference and stalling could keep $3.5 trillion in support from Americans.
“We’re just concerned about entitlement mentality versus rewarding mentality,” Manchin said to NBC News. “And then taking care of those who really can’t take care of themselves.”
Perhaps it’s a new passion project for Manchin. The Entitlement Epidemic. Hopefully, we can table it until the Opioid Epidemic isn’t ravaging our home state already.
We’d like to share our deep gratitude for the people and programs prioritizing discourse with Manchin, doing everything they can to secure government investment.
Progress wouldn’t be possible without community and the bold strength of our leaders on the ground, like Takeiya Smith continuing conversation with Joe Manchin after a meeting with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
We’re sending thoughts of solidarity and safety prayers to all demonstrators, organizers and supporters. Black By God stands, and swims, with you!
Be sure to check your inbox this Friday for more discussions with the incredible Black West Virginian women leading the effort. For updates on this story and the organizations behind it, please follow: