Manchin chides W.Va. GOP

PARKERSBURG – A release Thursday morning from the West Virginia Republican Party and those responsible for it are being derided by a West Virginia senator who said it was lies.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Thursday afternoon condemned the release and called those responsible “political hacks” for claiming he voted “present” on an amendment to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Manchin said he was attending the funeral of his cousin and visiting with his mother, who was ill.

“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 common sense solutions to the problems our state and nation face have become so difficult,” Manchin said. “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.”

Conrad Lucas, the chairman of the state Republican Party, who is quoted in the release, was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.

The Affordable Care Act is dubbed Obamacare by its opponents, particularly the Republican Party. Three senators did not vote on the amendment, Manchin, Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

“Hypocrite Votes ‘Present,’ Helps Obama Again,” the release issued Thursday morning from the party said.

“In another show of political cowardice, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin late yesterday (Wednesday) refused to vote on a Senate amendment to prevent spending any more Federal monies on the implementation of Obamacare,” the release said. “All 45 Senate Republicans voted for an amendment, brought by 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.'”

“It’s never a big surprise to see Sen. Manchin playing both sides of an issue,” Lucas said in the release. “But given a choice between the Obamacare bill that will destroy family budgets and kill jobs, and trying to keep our health care freedoms, Manchin can’t choose either one. That’s the opposite of leadership. It’s failure to act.”

Manchin “has waffled on Obamacare since the liberal program became a reality,” the release said.

“Publicly he was for it, before he was against it. But when given chances to stop it or defund it, Manchin has been silent. And, it’s meant he won’t stand up for the unborn,” the release said.

“Obamacare means abortions. Obamacare means more expensive health care that we don’t choose,” Lucas is quoted. “Obamacare is the opposite of freedom. Yet when Sen. Manchin has the chance to make changes or put the brakes on this liberal takeover of our doctors, he waffles or worse, stays silent. West Virginians deserve better.”

The senator on Wednesday also canceled a news conference with Sen. Mark Kirk and Reps. Vern Buchanan and Edward Markey about legislation to reclassify drugs containing hydrocodone in an effort to prevent prescription drug abuse.

The Republican Party later on Thursday afternoon issued another statement that said Manchin avoided the vote on the health care act, but attended another vote three hours later. The news release said Manchin “skipped a roll call vote on Wednesday that sought to defund federal implementation of Obamacare.”

“He has today privately claimed to West Virginia Republican Party officials that he was out-of-town and attending to a family illness and death in his family,” the release said. “Trouble is, Manchin was not officially excused from the vote, in which he was reported as ‘not voting.'”

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 party said.

“In fact, based on Senate records, Manchin had a 48-hour window of zero official Senate business in which to attend to family matters. From 5:30 p.m. on Monday until 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Manchin’s whereabouts are unclear,” the release said.

“We owe Sen. Manchin and his family every courtesy and our prayers in their times of need or tragedy,” Lucas said in the second release. “But we also owe it to the taxpayers and the owners of the state to make sure he casts every vote on important issues and makes clear his stance on the liberal Obamacare. The senator has made a habit of waffling on tough issues. Skipping yet another Obamacare vote seems standard in his habitual fence-sitting.”

The party issued a timeline of Manchin’s week and votes:

* 5:30 p.m. Monday, Senate begins roll call vote for federal Judge Richard Taranto of Maryland. Manchin votes Yes. No other official business that day.

* Tuesday, No roll call votes all day.

* 10:53 a.m. Wednesday, Senate begins debate on the Cruz Amendment (to HR 933) to prohibit further federal funds to implement Obamacare.

* 2:02 p.m. Wednesday, Senate votes to defeat Cruz Amendment on a party line vote. Manchin listed as not voting. No excuse for the absence is stated or noted in the record as requested. The verbatims of the Senate floor activity indicate that Sen. Dick Durbin acknowledges Manchin as “necessarily absent.”

* 5:34 p.m. Wednesday, three hours later, Senate votes on Senate Amendment No. 33 (McCain) to HR 933. Manchin votes No. “Has conveniently missed the controversial vote on the Cruz Amendment,” the release said.