Rep. McKinley Looks Past Partisan Political Drama
WHEELING — U.S. Congressman David McKinley highlighted the many blessings for which West Virginians should be thankful, adding that he has no doubt his controversial vote in support of the bipartisan infrastructure bill was the right thing to do.
“Over 11 years of being in Congress — being your representative, I’ve never had the chance to vote on an infrastructure bill,” McKinley, R-W.Va., told members of the Wheeling Rotary Club on Tuesday. “We never had a chance to vote. Finally this year, coming from the Senate — a bipartisan bill — written by people I trust.”
McKinley, a Wheeling native, commended Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for their role in moving the legislation forward. When the bill came to the House, McKinley was one of 13 Republicans who voted to support it and tip the scales toward its passage.
The 13 congresspeople have since taken heat from other GOP lawmakers, constituents and even former President Donald Trump, who described the bill as a “terrible Democrat socialist infrastructure plan.”
Many of the Congress members who voted outside of party lines in support of the plan have recently seen their offices flooded with unsavory phone calls and emails about it. Some — including McKinley — have even received death threats.
“I have no qualms about having voted for it,” McKinley said. “Yes, we’ve had the death threats. My wife has been threatened, and I can go on. It was the right thing to do, and I have no qualms about it.”
On Tuesday, McKinley remained unwavering in his stance about the bill, and that $6 billion will now be coming to West Virginia to help with vital infrastructure projects.
“So I’m going to play party politics and vote ‘no’? Ain’t gonna happen,” he said Tuesday. “I’m voting for West Virginia, and I did it. Now what I’m hoping is that we’re going to start to see the benefits from it — how it’s going to help us.”
McKinley said money in the infrastructure bill will first be sent to Charleston, then it will be distributed on a “competitive basis.” Areas of the state that are hurting for clean water and broadband internet services will be among those high on the priority list.
McKinley said the infrastructure funding will help foster growth and give future generations of West Virginians a better chance to grow up in their home state. He said the $550 billion infrastructure bill is projected to add “zero” to the national debt, unlike the social spending bill which has passed the House by a vote split down party lines. That is expected to increase debt, he stressed.
“Look at what’s happening with inflation,” McKinley said. “Inflation is a tax on everybody.
“But we’ve found out that in Washington, they can’t chew gum and walk at the same time.”
One item McKinley said was “slipped into” the infrastructure bill targets carbon emissions, but it aims to keep the fossil fuel industry viable by doing so.
“That’s the backbone of our economy here in the Ohio Valley — our fossil fuels — coal, gas and oil,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to do carbon capture so that emissions at our power plants are zero emissions. That’s what my objective has been for the last 11 years. Find ways that we can keep our fossil fuel plants open, but have zero emissions, so that they are on a level playing field with wind and solar and hydro and nuclear. We’re right at the cusp.”
Leading into the Thanksgiving holiday, McKinley said he was thankful to be home in the Ohio Valley, and cited a myriad of things for which everyone should be thankful. From the availability of effective COVID-19 vaccines to the fact that our military currently is not engaged in any active combat missions, he said our nation has plenty for which to be thankful.
As does the state of West Virginia and the greater Wheeling area, he noted. McKinley cited the opening of travel through the ongoing Interstate 70 Bridges project, WVU Medicine’s management of Wheeling Hospital and the plan for continued operations of the Mitchell Power Plant as big examples of silver linings through tough times.
Other sources of pride in the Wheeling area, he pointed out, include the local schools and colleges, the Wheeling Newspapers, the Wheeling Nailers, the Ohio County Airport, the Wheeling Symphony and other entities that help define the community and give it the kind of character that has always “fought above its weight.”
“I’m thankful for people who believe in us and this community as they continue to invest in it,” he said. “I’ve been thankful for just being part of this community.
“On a lighter note, I’m kind of glad this football season in Mountaineer Stadium is over,” he said.