CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have spent the past couple of days talking and releasing statements about their priorities for the new session of Congress.
Rockefeller said he plans to stand up for low- and middle-income families and to require the wealthiest Americans to "pay their fair share."
Rockefeller will "fight to close the historic income divide that has and continues to weigh heavily on our economy, and unfairly burdens so many West Virginia families," according to a statement released late Wednesday.
Rockefeller is also committed to reducing the federal deficit, and believes the "country's largest mega-corporations and the ultra wealthy to share the responsibility for getting our economy back on track."
Rockefeller plans to continue opposing proposed legislation that would disproportionately cut the federal deficit "on the backs of seniors, individuals with disabilities and families struggling to make ends meet."
In a statement released on Wednesday, Manchin said, "I have proposed legislation that West Virginians care about the most -- getting our financial house in order; keeping our promises to our seniors, veterans and children; achieving energy independence; addressing mass violence in a way that brings all parties to the table and finally ending the war in Afghanistan."
In a telephone press conference on Thursday, Manchin said a top priority is to "get your financial house in order" during this Congressional session.
"We will do whatever we can to make sure our country is energy independent - using coal and Marcellus gas and renewables -- wind and solar energy and biofuels....
"We must also be ending the war in Afghanistan. I am not letting up on that. It is an absolutely horrible war," Manchin said.
"We will have to fight a war on terrorists to prevent them from doing harm to America and Americans. If that means using our drones in the most dangerous areas, I would very much approve of that."
Both Rockefeller and Manchin spoke about the sharp divisions in Congress.
"The partisan divides in Washington may be as strong as ever, but I truly believe that we can put our differences aside to tackle serious problems our great country faces," Rockefeller said.
"I have been dedicated to making sure that hard-working families in West Virginia get a fair shake," Rockefeller said. "We must decide how to provide retirement security to millions of Americans, including those left without health care or pensions when their companies go bankrupt or ship jobs overseas.
"And, we must decide to move our health system forward through a health reform law that gives us many tools to improve the quality and availability of health care."
On Wednesday, the House passed "The No Budget, No Pay Act," requiring Congress to pass a budget by April 15 and to temporarily extend the federal debt ceiling through May 19.
If the House or Senate fails to reach a budget agreement by April 15, members of that chamber will not get paid.
Manchin is a co-sponsor of the "No Budget, No Pay" bill in the Senate.
Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said on Thursday, "Although somewhat gimmicky, the measure will help to defuse the brinkmanship that has dominated our nation's fiscal and economic policies of late.
"The House of Representatives, at least for the time being, is rejecting the reckless political stratagem of holding our nation's public credit hostage in order to demand budgetary concessions. It is a clear sign that sensible leaders of both parties are working to ensure that the U.S. government honors its debt obligations."