By Mannix Porterfield
One day after he assured West Virginia reporters he is prepared to renew his battle to put America’s financial house in order, Joe Manchin took the oath Thursday for a full term in the U.S. Senate.
Manchin reluctantly voted for the emergency Senate bill that kept the nation from hurtling down a fiscal cliff, saying only a long-term cure can avoid real trouble in the not-too-distant future.
The former West Virginia governor said he views the start of his first full term with “a fresh optimism” that the nation can resolve its mounting debt.
“I truly believe we can, because the simple fact is, we must,” the Democratic lawmaker said, shortly after the oath was administered.
Manchin was elected in 2010 to complete the unexpired term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest serving senator in American history, and then won a full, six-year term last year, defeating the same Republican opponent, Morgantown businessman John Raese.
“I have spent the past two years working for a ‘big fix,’ and I will spend every day of this term working for a big fix,” he pledged.
Another pet project of the Marion County native was revived in his brief remarks — bringing troops home from Afghanistan.
Manchin devoted most of his mid-week telephone news conference to the staggering debt the nation faces, but also briefly referred to other goals in his first term — achieving energy independence, maintaining benefits for seniors and veterans, and working to reverse the ugly trend of mass violence.
He described the bill worked out New Year’s Day as a stop-gap one that only delays the need to impose some meaningful reforms, not only in government spending, but in efforts to eliminate waste and fraud in a number of social programs.
“I vow to each and every one of you that every day that I am your senator, I will put our great state first,” he said.
“And after the nonsense of the past few years, it’s more clear than ever that the Hill needs a good dose of common sense from the mountains of West Virginia.”
Manchin’s swearing in was accompanied by words of praise from fellow Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
“Sen. Manchin and I share a genuine pride for West Virginia and an unwavering dedication to the people of our state,” Rockefeller said in a statement.
“During this time here, he has proven that he is a strong, independent voice for West Virginia. I’ve enjoyed working with him, and look forward to continuing to work beside him to pave the way to a brighter future for West Virginia. I’m proud of all he has done for our state and wish him the best in his new term.”
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