U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) spoke with West Virginia reporters on a press conference call today to discuss why he voted in favor of debating the jobs bill.
Below is the full text of Senator Manchin's remarks, as prepared for delivery.
"As you all know, I ran for the Senate to bring commonsense values back to Washington.
"Unfortunately, the legislative process in Washington has gotten so dysfunctional that it doesn't make much sense at all.
"Instead of moving a bill to the floor and proposing amendments to make a bill better and having an intelligent and informed discussion about whether to vote for or against, we are paralyzed by the filibuster and an unwillingness to work together -- just because of an election cycle.
"Well, I have said it before: I was elected to focus on the next generation, not the next election. And with our nation facing such a serious jobs crisis I had to ask myself whether I could, in good conscience, oppose a procedural motion that would give us a chance to hear all the serious arguments that need to be heard and the discussion that needs to be had. The answer is no.
"Now, there may be times when a filibuster makes sense, but have we become so divided as nation that we would choose to filibuster a bill and totally give up the chance to make a jobs bill better -- or to make our tax system more fair and equitable?
"That just doesn't make sense. The people of West Virginia sent me here to do what I can to make things better, and I am going to try my best to do just that.
"Now, no piece of legislation will be perfect, but last night we had choice -- to choose to take the path forward to start taking the right steps to create jobs and make the right investments to rebuild America, or to choose to nothing.
"I chose to move forward and work toward making this legislation better.
"And as you all know, there are parts of this bill that I think are good, parts that are bad and parts that are really ugly. And I truly believe that if we had an open and healthy debate, we could improve this plan.
"Now, some will say, what if there we no changes? What if all the amendments had failed?
"While I would hope that we -- Democrats and Republicans -- could work together to make this jobs bill better, I would not have voted for final passage without significant changes to the legislation.
"As I have said to Democratic leadership, Republicans, and the President, now is not the time for ultimatums, now is the time to do the job we we're elected to do -- find commonsense compromise.
"And just like a sick patient, I can't operate if you don't come to the hospital.
"Looking ahead, we now have no choice -- Republicans, Democrats, and the President must work together. And, I would ask the President, respectfully, to put aside the partisan arrows and stop worrying about who is to blame -- let's get to work rebuilding America.
"For myself, I would hope that we could vote on those initiatives that I believe will help create jobs and rebuild America:
* Hiring veterans
* Modernizing Schools
"And I would want to work to make our tax system more fair so we ensure millionaires pay their fair share. I believe that in our current system, it's unfair that millionaires pay a lower effective rate than plenty of working Americans. This bill fixes that gap.
"But I would work across the aisle to eliminate the parts of this bill that do not create jobs:
* Extending and broadening a payroll tax cut that takes a 240 billion dollar bite out of Social Security and puts us further in debt. Every working person and business paying into Social Security would definitely trade one year of a temporary policy that doesn't create jobs for real tax reform that is fair and equitable;
* Unemployment insurance that doesn't retrain workers for the jobs that actually exist and will exist in the future.
"I would also hope we would consider voting on rolling back unnecessary regulations -- such as those proposed by the EPA -- that are killing job creation and stifling investment in our nation.
"Doing all this just makes sense -- and the challenge for this Congress is whether we will put politics aside, work together, and do what is right for the next generation.
"It is what we did in West Virginia and I know can work in Washington.
"It is how I tried to lead as governor, and I believe the type of leadership the President and this body must show.
"If we do this, I strongly believe that we will craft a jobs bill that will not only work, it will help put America back to work."