“If you’re going to be part of the solution, you’ve got to work with the other side.”

By on January 28, 2021 in Featured News, News

Capito Discusses EPW Committee Agenda & Effort to Break Political Logjam This Year

WASHINGTON, DC — In remarks on Tuesday before a virtual meeting of The Ripon Society, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) discussed the upcoming agenda of the Environment & Public Works Committee and the effort she is leading to break the political logjam on Capitol Hill this year.

“I’m excited about what we’re going to be able to do there,” said Capito of the Committee, where she is slated to become the panel’s top Republican. “I don’t want to say ‘no’ all the time. I’d rather be doing things than not. We have a few people who just don’t want to do anything, but to me that’s useless. We’re elected to deal with difficult issues and try to improve people’s lives. And I’d rather do that.

“For example, we now have an administration that wants to move aggressively on climate change. That’s going to be a challenge for me coming from West Virginia, which is a fossil fuel energy-producing state that has been relied upon for generations to power the country. And so I would rather be part of the solution, which involves technology and innovation. I’m also all in on renewables. But we all know renewables can’t power this great and wonderful nation a hundred percent of the time.

“Electric cars are great. But remember — electric cars have to get their power somewhere. I have to keep reminding people that when you plug your lamp into the wall, that means something — natural gas, nuclear, maybe a renewable or coal — is powering it. And we can’t forget that.”

Capito was elected to the Senate in 2014 after serving seven terms in the U.S. House. In addition to discussing her efforts on the Environment & Public Works Committee, she also took a moment to praise the efforts in her home state to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have the best vaccine distribution of anybody in the country,” the West Virginia lawmaker declared. “We have the greatest percentage of people who have been able to get the vaccine, and the greatest percentage of people in vulnerable areas who have been able to get the vaccine.

“How did we do it? West Virginia was the only state that did not accept the federal pathway to distribution of the vaccine. We created our own using our health departments and our National Guard and our local pharmacies. We were able to meet that challenge much better than if we had followed the diagrams of the federal policy.

“I think that shows us something that we as Republicans already know — the closer you get to the people, the better you can deliver the service.”

Following her remarks, Capito was asked a number of questions, including one about the EPW Committee’s oversight authority and how Republicans on the Committee plan to approach the EPA.

“We’re going to have a very robust oversight authority,” she stated matter of factly. “We’ve hired folks who know the EPA and have worked there. And that’s going to be very, very helpful. That said, here’s what I’m really worried about. I’ve talked to Michael Regan. He’s very easy to talk to. The Farm Bureau loves him. He goes to the stakeholders and he talks the talk. So he’s going to have a major role.

“But what role is Gina McCarthy going to have? She’s a climate czar. What role is John Kerry going to have? He’s the international climate czar. My concern is that I can’t bring a climate czar into my committee and ask them what they’re doing. That is a very, very, worrisome dynamic.”

Capito was also asked her thoughts about what will reportedly be another key element of the Biden Administration’s environmental policy — environmental justice.

“It is clearly a disadvantage for people if they live in a community that is next door to a slag pile,” she stated. “They are unable to move because they don’t have the economic wherewithal to do so, and nobody’s paying attention and cleaning up the site. That’s an environmental justice issue.

“But in my view, another environmental justice issue is whether environmental policies plunge people into poverty. That’s what happened during the Obama years to our state. It plunged people into poverty, and you see what happened. There was a rise in drug addiction, a rise in overdoses, and a rise in hopelessness and depression. Joblessness can lead to all kinds of other very, very difficult problems for people. And I’m going to keep talking about that because I think it’s important.”

With Ohio Senator Rob Portman announcing that he plans to retire at the end of his current term, Capito was also asked her thoughts about the departure of the consensus building lawmaker and what it meant for bipartisanship in the coming years.

“I’m really sad to see Rob go,” said Capito, who has also developed a reputation as a consensus builder and, along with Portman, is one of a group of 16 Republicans and Democrats trying to reach agreement with the Biden Administration on another COVID-relief bill.

“As a neighboring Senator, we worked a lot on the opioid issue together. We worked a lot on health care issues together as well. Rob’s been a good mentor to me. He understands the fiscal and financial and trade and international issues much better than I do. I’m really going to miss him. And as you read what people are saying about him, he’s that kind of leader who listens and who can handle tense issues in a way that doesn’t forever burn relationships. And I think that’s the important thing that we need to keep in mind here. We’re not going to agree on everything, but it’s how you disagree that often matters most.”

It is an approach, Capito added, that she has been exposed to and attempted to follow throughout her career.

“When I was growing up,” she said, “West Virginia was a heavily Democrat state. When I got to the Statehouse, I was one of only 22 Republicans out of a hundred. I learned early on that if you’re going to be part of the solution, you’ve got to work with the other side. And so I’m going to continue to do that. I’ve done a lot of work with Klobuchar and Hassan and Shaheen on broadband and other things. I have worked a lot with Baldwin on some VA issues, and did something with Elizabeth Warren, as well.

“It can be done. I think it’s built on personal relationships. I also think the leadership can play a key role here. If McConnell and Schumer can get along, maybe a power sharing agreement when it’s 50-50 will force that more. It certainly would help the rest of us in terms of getting along.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people. 

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