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--- What have our senators been doing lately?

Published by waner in WV politics · 19/4/2015 20:31:00
Tags: ManchinCapito
Democrat-in-name-only (DINO) Joe Manchin

Both of these votes have garnered very little notice from the media.

The Estate Tax

Three weeks ago I wrote about Manchin being the only Democrat to vote for an amendment that would have eliminated the Estate Tax. (See "Odds and Ends" April 3 below). On Thursday he once again joined Republicans in an effort to repeal the tax. As Fortune magazine describes:

The vote was symbolic. Senate Democrats (minus West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin) and President Obama remain opposed to a repeal, ensuring it won’t advance any further than it did today in the foreseeable future.

As I asked earlier this month, why is Joe joining the Republicans on this vote? Since it would provide a huge giveaway to the super rich, most Democrats are opposed to eliminating the tax. As Fortune editorializes at the end of their article:

Among the groups leaning on lawmakers to roll back the tax: an association going by the nothing-to-see-here name of the Policy and Taxation Group, which has reportedly drawn support from a handful of super-rich families, including the Gallos, the Kochs, Mars’, and the Waltons. If Congressional Republicans think that’s the crowd most in need of a break this tax season, they should probably get out more.

How bad is this effort when even Fortune is taking shots at the Republicans on this issue? I searched for the senator's justification for his vote but could not find any. Maybe Joe also needs to get out more.

Motorcyle Helmets

Earlier this week U.S. News and World Report described efforts to eliminate funding for police checking motorcyclists for helmets:

Motorcycle enthusiasts and members of Congress are pushing to ban federal funding of local efforts to check helmet use or establish checkpoints that single out bikers.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., reintroduced his Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act on Thursday, following the quiet introduction of a bill with the same name by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in January.
The only Democrat signed on as co-sponsor is Joe Manchin. 

 This one intrigued me. After a little research on this subject (I obviously have way too much free time), I found that as WV governor in 2005 he tried to get the state helmet law changed:

Manchin has directed the state Department of Transportation to study whether West Virginia could do away with the helmet requirement, at least in part, while maintaining safety. . . .

Manchin held a press conference on the steps of the state Capitol at 2 p.m., and then mounted his 1999 Harley Road King Classic and rode with about a dozen others to a motorcycle rally at Snowshoe Mountain.

Feminist Shelley Moore Capito

Who says the Republicans don't care about women?

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans introduced a new bill, of which Shelley Moore Capito is a co-sponsor, called the Workplace Advancement Act. The bill attempts to demonstrate that Republicans do indeed care about American women. Non-Republicans were a bit more cynical, the Huffington Post in "Senate Republicans Propose Stripped-Down Equal Pay Bill", argues that it is just a much watered-down version of a bill that Democrats have been pushing for years. The real purpose of the bill is to embarrass the Democrats:

Fischer's bill paints Democrats into a corner. If they vote against it, they risk being accused of hypocritically blocking equal pay legislation. But they can't accept Fischer's legislation as a replacement for their own, more comprehensive bill, which they've been fighting to pass for years.

The best analysis of the bill I found is by Kaili Joy Gray over at Wonkette who points out that the bill doesn't require training for EEOC employees on discrimination issues and it doesn't allow wage studies to eliminate disparity. As she concludes:

So, in other words, the Republican version borrows one idea from the Democratic version, skips the rest, and pretends that it is the best way to promote and enforce pay equality. And if Democrats really care about women and their paychecks, they should support this watered-down bill, which has the “bipartisan” support of Independent Sen. Angus King and “Democrats” Joe Donnelly and Joe Manchin. You know whose support it doesn’t have? The Democratic women who’ve been slamming their heads against their desks as Republicans insist America doesn’t need any more equal pay laws, thank you very much. But shouldn’t those ladies just shut their squeal holes and listen to the menfolk on this? (No, they should not, and they will not.)

I'm sure that in the future we will hear about how Capito is such a strong supporter of women's rights. As for Manchin, I still think that he will officially become a Republican at some point down the road.

UPDATE --- As I write this, Joe has announced that he will not run for governor in 2016. 

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