Manchin appointed to Senate appropriations committee

Gazette-Mail file photo
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Sen. Joe Manchin has been appointed by Democratic leadership to the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations, a powerful congressional committee that has control over the purse strings for the federal government.

Manchin, who was most recently being considered by president-elect Donald Trump for U.S. Energy Secretary, announced the committee appointment Tuesday evening.

Manchin will join Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the state’s Republican Senator who is already on the committee, which could give West Virginia an increased amount of power in the Senate.

With 30 members, the appropriations committee is the largest committee in the Senate. Positions on the committee are prized by lawmakers because of the influence the group has over discretionary spending by the federal government.

Former West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd, who died in 2010, was a longtime chairman of the Senate appropriations committee and often used the seat to direct federal funds to his home state.

Manchin, Capito and West Virginia’s three Republican congressmen are expected to make another push next year to save unionized coal miners’ pensions and health care benefits, and the dual appropriations positions could benefit that effort.

In his press release, Manchin also announced that he has been appointed to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the numerous federal intelligence agencies.

“As a member of these new committees, as well as a new member of Senate leadership, I will have a greater influence over where our federal dollars are going, and how our country’s intelligence activities and programs keep us safe,” Manchin said.

The select intelligence committee is supposed to act as a watchdog of the sprawling federal intelligence agencies, which had come under scrutiny in recent years due to whistle blowers, like Edward Snowden, releasing information that showed the federal government was collecting data on U.S. citizens.

As part of the committee, Manchin will be privy to classified intelligence assessments.

The centrist Democrat will also continue to serve on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, according to the release.

“As always, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common sense solutions to the challenges we face,” Manchin said. “In these four committees and as a member of Senate leadership, I am hopeful that I can work to rekindle a spirit of bipartisanship that will allow Congress to work more effectively and efficiently on behalf of the people we represent.”

Reach Andrew Brown at andrew.brown@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @Andy_Ed_Brown on Twitter.

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