WASHINGTON — On Monday evening, White House press secretary Jen Psaki made that uncommon affirmation on which Democrats and Republicans can both concur. “West Virginia doesn’t as a rule stand out enough to be noticed,” she said.
Psaki wasn’t discussing the state’s precarious segment decay or the not-irrelevant decrease of coal. The state has a stunning new public park, New River Gorge, however she didn’t imply that, by the same token. The press secretary was likewise not alluding to Babydog, Gov. Jim Justice’s jowly canine, who as of late turned into the informal mascot of the state’s Covid immunization exertion.
“West Virginia” has of late implied only two individuals, in any event taking everything into account: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, and Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat. Together the two came to hold unnecessary influence over how rapidly and how altogether President Biden can achieve his yearning however progressively troubled administrative plan.
What has that gotten for one of the poorest and least healthy states in the nation?
Other than Psaki’s joke, not much, it seems.
The only state created directly as a result of the Civil War, West Virginia is known as “the child of the storm.” Today it’s in the eye of a political hurricane. At a time of deep political divisions, the state’s two senators suddenly emerged this spring as key voices on key issues, including infrastructure and voting rights.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made Capito, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Public Works Committee, the leading GOP negotiator on infrastructure this spring. Those negotiations, however, were scuttled on Tuesday as the two sides failed to reach a deal.
“Sen. Capito was determined to reach a bipartisan agreement and negotiated in good faith throughout the entire process,” a member of her Senate staff said. “The president ended those talks, unfortunately.”
The presidential courtship had raised Capito’s profile, making her at least appear to be a compromise-curious Republican willing to talk to Biden, at a time when many GOP voters apparently don’t consider him their legitimate president. But what did West Virginia stand to gain from having one of its own lead negotiations with the president? And what did it lose when those high-stakes negotiations collapsed? (Capito will not be part of bipartisan talks expected to begin soon, but a member of her Senate staff told Yahoo News she would remain a key player in committee work on infrastructure matters.)