WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTRF) – As Congress continues to debate COVID-19 relief bills, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is concerned about how funds from the first stimulus package are being given out by states.
Senator Manchin said under the CARES Act, 55% of the money sent by the federal government was to stay with the state.
West Virginia received $1.25 billion, so the Senator explained the percentage that stayed within the jurisdiction of Governor Jim Justice and the Legislature was $690 million.
The other 45% was to go directly to counties and municipalities for relief based on population and the amount of cases reported in the area.
According to Senator Manchin, that’s about $560 million in the Mountain State. He had some strong words for Governor Justice about the distribution of that money so far, saying the Governor
The Governor is using this as a political slush fund. He’s in an election year and using this as a political slush fund. You tell me why, and this is coming from the Auditor’s Office, there’s only been $44 million that’s gone to cities and counties since they received the money in April. 3.5% of that has been dispersed. That’s awful.Senator Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia
But, Governor Justice says that’s not true.
It’s a lie. What Senator Manchin ought to do is concentrate on the job he has in D.C. and get that job done and get that job done properly.Governor Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia
Senator Manchin also raised concerns about the Governor’s plan to use some of the money for road projects, saying that does not fall under the original guidelines set by the Treasury Department.
You want to build a highway with your $690 million dollars you can use any way you want? You want to back fill? That’s all. Do everything you want to Governor Justice, but not with the people’s money that should be going to the counties, municipalities to help the health departments, to help the first responders, to help children, to help people and small businesses in those areas. That’s not your money to play with.Senator Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia
Think of the audacity of Senator Manchin to criticize how we’re sending out these CARES dollars for our cities and counties. I mean for crying out loud are you kidding me? Joe needs to absolutely to to the tune of $60 million dollars has gone out the door so far, Joe needs to go and watch his votes.Governor Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia
Senator Manchin says he’s part of a bipartisan group of Senators that wants to push for stronger guidelines in the next relief bill.
He explained those rules would be for the remaining funding from the CARES Act, and include penalties if it’s not distributed correctly to counties and municipalities by Governors.