Manchin courtship: WVa senator joins Jill Biden at clinic

<p>CHARLESTON, W.Va. &mdash; The White House’s courtship of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin continued Thursday as the moderate Democrat joined first lady Jill Biden on a visit to West Virginia, days after he met with President Joe Biden.</p>
<p>Manchin, with newfound clout in a Democratic Senate majority, is considered a crucial vote on the president’s families and jobs proposals. That includes massive infrastructure investment, as well as Democrats’ sweeping election and voter-access legislation.</p>
<p>Manchin said his Monday meeting with the president at the White House on the infrastructure proposal was productive, but he has expressed concerns about the $2.3 trillion price tag. </p>
<p>“The president and I had a very, very good meeting,” Manchin said Thursday. “We’re going to find a bipartisan pathway forward. We have to.”</p>
<p>Manchin has said measures to help coal miners in West Virginia and other rural states <a href="">must be part</a> of the package.</p>
<p>The first lady opened her brief remarks at a coronavirus vaccination clinic by saying Manchin’s “integrity and commitment to this state is steadfast.”</p>
<p>Jill Biden and Manchin were joined at the clinic at a Charleston high school by actress Jennifer Garner, a native of that city. They watched residents to get their shots in a state that started strong in December and January but has since lagged behind other parts of the country. </p>
<p>According to state and federal data, 38% of West Virginia adults are fully vaccinated, compared to 45% of adults nationally. Nearly 46% of adults in West Virginia and nearly 59% nationally have received one dose. </p>
<p>This week, Pfizer’s vaccine won authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds, in a move that could make it easier to reopen the nation’s schools. And Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and inside in most situations.</p>
<p>Jill Biden said she found out about the CDC’s no-mask announcement as she was getting off the plane in West Virginia.</p>
<p>“And here I was going to buy one that was coordinated with my outfit,” she said, smiling.</p>
<p>Manchin, a former governor, chairs the Senate committee on energy and natural resources. He is also a member of committees on appropriations, armed services and veterans’ affairs.</p>
<p>Jill Biden is a longtime teacher. Manchin’s wife of 54 years, Gayle, is a former president of the West Virginia Board of Education and former state Secretary for Education and the Arts. </p>
<p>Last month the U.S. Senate confirmed Gayle Manchin to be the co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. She was nominated by President Biden to the post in the federal-state partnership that promotes economic development across West Virginia and parts of 12 other states in Appalachia.</p>