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Manchin, state GOP spar over missed vote

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas sent out two press releases on Thursday afternoon attacking Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for "political cowardice" for failing to vote Wednesday on an amendment to a Senate bill that would prevent spending more money on health-care programs.

Manchin responded in a press release, stating, "Today's lie by the West Virginia Republican Party about my missed vote to attend my cousin's funeral and visit my ill mother represents the most disgusting part of politics and a perfect example of why reaching bipartisanship and commonsense solutions to the problems our state and nation face have become so difficult."

The first West Virginia Republican Party press release, issued at noon Thursday, stated, "All 45 Senate Republicans voted for an amendment brought by [Sen.] Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would have prohibited using funds on the expansion of the socialized health care program sought by liberal politicians.

"Fifty-two Democrats voted against the amendment. But Manchin couldn't even be troubled to take a stand himself. He voted 'present,'" the WVGOP release stated.

In his Thursday afternoon press release, Manchin also stated, "The West Virginia Republican Party would be wise to check their facts next time before they lie about my record and lie to the people of West Virginia."

The state Republican Party then issued a second press release, at 3:46 p.m. Thursday afternoon, stating, "Manchin was not officially excused from the vote, in which he was reported as 'not voting.'

"And, just three hours after the skipped vote on his beloved ObamaCare, Manchin was present to vote on another amendment on the same bill he skipped earlier," the West Virginia Republican Party press release added.

The Senate vote on the Cruz Amendment, which Manchin missed, took place at 2:02 p.m. Wednesday. The vote on the other amendment was held at 5:34 p.m. Wednesday.

Thursday's second Republican Party press release specifically attacked Manchin for showing up to vote on that later amendment Wednesday afternoon.

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Lucas said, "It's never a big surprise to see Sen. Manchin playing both sides of an issue."

But Lucas apparently never determined exactly where Manchin was when he missed the earlier vote Wednesday afternoon.

Late Thursday afternoon, Manchin's office told the Gazette that "the senator attended his cousin's funeral on Wednesday morning and immediately drove back to D.C. for votes following the funeral."

The funeral was in Marion County.

When the vote that Lucas criticized Manchin for avoiding was taken, Manchin was still driving back to Washington, D.C.

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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