FRANKLYWNOW - House Members Discuss Key Issues

House Members Discuss Key Issues

Weighing in at more than $14 billion every year, the federal government provides more to West Virginia's economy than any other source. For the latest episode of West Virginia Media's public affairs program, "Decision Makers" host Bray Cary visited Washington, D.C., to meet with the state's congressional delegation. All three of the state's members of the House of Representatives -- Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Alan B. Mollohan and Nick Joe Rahall, both D-W.Va. -- appeared to talk about issues both local and national. Mollohan's district has been hit hard with floods during the past year. The Northern Panhandle has been particularly hard hit, with Wheeling Island under water twice during the past six months. Cary asked Mollohan whether there was a way for West Virginia to avoid the seemingly endless cycle of floods and federal aid that has dominated recent years. "People live in these areas. They have investments in these areas -- both financial investments and emotional investments," Mollohan said. "But people are opting for relocation in many of these areas." The 11-term congressman from West Virginia's northernmost district said he wouldn't favor any plan that would force residents of flood-prone areas to move. He said the current FEMA incentive plan strikes the right balance on that area. Mollohan also compared West Virginia's current debate over government ethics to a similar fight in Washington in recent weeks. Mollohan is the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Commission and was part of an effort to turn back proposed ethics changes by Republicans. He said that despite the public clash, he sees strong ethical standards in both parties and overall in the House. Capito gave Presdient Bush's proposed reforms to Social Security a boost, saying she was ready to create a "lasting solution." The third-term Republican from West Virginia's Second Congressional District said she wasn't concerned about Social Security for older workers -- especially those older than 50. "But for the younger worker, there is a question: Will Social Security be there for me?" Capito said. "I think we need an answer for them." Capito said the recent election in Iraq was a sign that American policies there are starting to take hold. She said she was especially proud that it was Iraqi women who led the way to the polls. "They thirst for freedom," Capito said. "Now that they've had a taste of democracy, I think they'll want more." Capito talked about her efforts to get federal funding to replace the dangerous stretch of U.S. 35 through Putnam and Mason counties. She called it her "Holy Grail of projects" and predicted continued funding. Rahall talked about his efforts, along with those of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to help protect the health and retirement benefits of workers of bankrupt companies. His newly proposed legislation was spurred by the recent problems with the workers of now-defunct Horizon Industries, which employed thousands across southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. When the company went bankrupt, all those workers found themselves without benefits. Rahall wants to prevent federal bankruptcy judges from allowing such benefits to be cut off. The Third District Democrat sharply criticized the judge's decision in the Horizon case. "It has allowed the companies to escape their moral obligation to these workers," Rahall said. "What it more or less means is that instead of handing benefits to the workers of Horizon, Horizon has been handing them a lump of coal." Rahall also urged the passage of the $286 billion federal transportation funding bill that is currently stalled in the House of Representatives. He said that if the measure passes, it will mean $2 billion for West Virginia transportation projects, including the King Coal Highway, the bypass around Beckley and other projects. Next week on "Decision Makers," guests will discuss the proposals for the new legislative session. "Decision Makers" airs at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Sundays on West Virginia Media stations.

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