Aug 2, 2011- Special Session: Day 2 and Debt Deal Updates

By: Michael Hyland
By: Michael Hyland

The Legislature is moving forward on plans to shift the political boundaries in West Virginia.

It's day two of the special session at the West Virginia Capitol, and both the House and Senate are moving their plans forward to shift the boundaries of electoral districts.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia's redistricting process continues with a House committee endorsing a draft plan for delegate districts.

The plan would increase the number of single-seat districts from 36 to 47. It would leave the House's 53 remaining seats in multi-member districts.

The committee rejected nine proposed changes to the plan Tuesday. Those included minor exchanges of voting precincts between districts sharing the same county.

The committee advanced the bill on a non-unanimous vote. Opponents are filing a minority report, an alternative plan for the House to consider.

The Senate is advancing a plan for its own districts. It would keep 42 counties intact within districts, but split the remaining 13.

The 2010 Census requires states to revisit legislative and congressional districts to ensure equal representation. The special legislative session began Monday.

Meanwhile, in Washington the Senate has acted on the debt ceiling bill. Both Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D) and Joe Manchin (D) voted in favor of the bill.

Manchin's comments on the vote:

“While the American people had to witness a needlessly dysfunctional partisan political process, they have a reason to be optimistic. I voted for this bipartisan compromise because it opens a commonsense pathway to work toward fixing our long-term spending and debt problems, while protecting vital programs like Social Security and Medicare. Today, I voted to responsibly cuts trillions in spending and in just a few months, we will have a guaranteed vote on what I hope will be a balanced long-term deficit reduction plan. 

“By increasing responsible spending cuts, imposing caps on discretionary spending, eliminating so-called war savings gimmicks, protecting Social Security and Medicare and including a guaranteed vote on what I hope will be a responsible Balanced Budget Amendment, I hope this legislation will chart a new fiscal course for this country – one in which our federal spending is based on our values and our priorities. That said, this deal is far from perfect; it is a compromise that does not have everything we would wish for in a perfect world. I still remain very concerned about a downgrade, and clearly, much work remains to be done to get our nation’s fiscal house in order. I am committed to doing everything in my power to bring fiscal discipline back to Washington in a responsible way that keeps our promises to our seniors and veterans.

“Looking ahead to this fall, I will work with my colleagues – both Democrats and Republicans – to develop a long-term deficit fix based on a balanced approach that includes responsible cuts, tax reform and the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse. I will strive for an approach that I hope will not only help prevent a credit rating downgrade, but will also help create a brighter future for the children of West Virginia and our nation.”

Rockefeller released this statement after the vote:

“This plan is far from perfect and it is not the bill I would have written.  But if we don’t pass it, our nation will default and our economy will fall into an even worse recession.  Default would cost jobs, slash people’s retirement savings, and raise interest rates on loans and credit cards.  For too long this year, political gimmicks drove the debate about preventing a default.  This plan is a compromise, and one that achieves the most important protections that I’ve advocated since day one.  We blocked Republican efforts to drastically slash Medicaid for 402,000 West Virginians who can’t afford to lose health care.  We stopped attempts to cut Social Security’s safety net for 272,000 West Virginia seniors on fixed incomes.  We protected veterans’ benefits for 29,211 West Virginians who rely on them after they chose to put their country above all else.  And we pushed back on Republican plans to cut Pell Grants, making it possible for about 35,000 West Virginians to afford to go to college each year.  These are not small accomplishments.  In coming months, I will keep fighting for these priorities and to make sure that future budget cuts are balanced and include shared sacrifice from the very wealthy.”

The debt ceiling is far from Rockefeller's sole focus today. He continues to speak out about his concerns over the partial shut down of the FAA.

He also announced he's undergoing "routine" surgery on his left knee next week to "resolve some stiffness and pain." However, there appear to be some confusion over which knee needs the work.

His office initally announced it was his right knee and followed up later with a comical correction.

"The surgery is on my left knee -- I certainly don't want the doctor to get confused and cut the wrong knee," Rockefeller joked in a follow-up news release.

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