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West Virginia counties thankful for COVID relief, forceful leadership from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin

Release from West Virginia Association of Counties:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. House of Representatives passed the newest federal aid package for COVID 19 relief as put forth by President Joe Biden.  This follows its passage by the U.S. Senate this past weekend and highlighted the pivotal role played by West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin in crafting the measure that provides the nation $1.9 trillion in relief.   

During a call Wednesday afternoon to announce and review the legislation with city and county leaders across the state, Manchin bluntly declared of the bill’s impact, “There’s a lot that can be done.”

The Senator recognized that West Virginia local governments have been stretched thin by providing essential services during the pandemic, while now facing ongoing cuts in revenue as a result. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have advocated for funding to support local governments directly.”    

Senator Manchin secured at least $4 billion in direct funding for West Virginia and more additional funding in grants and federal programs. This funding includes approximately $348 million shared among all 55 counties, $330 million for cities, and $1.25 billion in funding for the state. “Just like the state, local governments will have the flexibility to use these funds how you think is best needed,” he proclaimed.

“Go big, or don’t go.”

West Virginia’s county officials also welcome the considerable support for the relief package from Governor Jim Justice, who on several occasions before the national media, voiced strong backing of the federal relief package.  “West Virginians can be very proud of the adamant support provided by Governor Justice on the relief bill,” said Cabell County Commissioner Nancy Cartmill.  “Last weekend during a national telecast Gov. Justice again stated how much help this package gives the people.  This pandemic has been rough.  People need it.” 

During TV appearances on CBS, ABC, Fox and CNN in the past couple weeks, Governor Justice often invoked the line “Go big, or don’t go” in urging passage of the Biden plan and the people’s needs.  The message was impactful.

As welcome as the relief package is, WVACo remains focused on the workings of the West Virginia Legislature and the current session.  “The leadership from Sen. Manchin and Governor Justice, the year-long push for supplies of PPE, the crush on local health departments and law enforcement, and securing funding help – it’s been substantial,” said Marion County Sheriff and WVACO President Jimmy Riffle. 

“But the fact remains that the long-established, government structure for county funding is inadequate.  Many bills now before the legislature will negatively impact funding for local government, where we face sustained regional jail costs; want access for broadband to help create jobs and improve education; and still face the continuing impacts from COVID.”

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