West Va. congressmen battle over Pence remarks

West Virginia GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins on Friday jumped into the partisan scrap between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia over the Republicans’ recent tax-cut plan.

“Thank you vice president,” he said, for telling Americans that Manchin voted against the plan.

The exchange between Pence and Manchin started Wednesday when Pence went to White Sulphur Springs, where congressional Republicans are holding their annual policy retreat, to visit a truck dealership and tout the tax plan’s benefits to households and businesses.

“I was there,” Jenkins said Friday, the final day of the retreat. “Thank you Vice President Pence for looking at the cameras, looking at the crowd, looking at press and saying Joe voted no to the tax cut. …They need to know that Joe voted no.”

The GOP-controlled Senate passed the tax-reform bill in December in a 51-49 vote, with no support from the chamber’s Democratic senators.

Manchin is in a tough re-election bid this year in conservative-leaning West Virginia.

The website FiveThirtyEight shows Manchin has voted for Trump priorities roughly 58 percent of the time since Trump won West Virginia in 2016 by a 42 percent margin.

At Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Manchin frequently stood up and applauded when the president touted his first-year successes, to the apparent displeasure of fellow congressional Democrats, who largely sat through the president’s roughly 80-minute address.

On Wednesday, Pence told employees at Worldwide Equipment Inc., “People of the Mountain State, you deserve to know, when it came to cutting your taxes, Joe (Manchin) voted no.”

“Joe voted no to giving working families more of your hard-earned money. Joe voted no on tax cuts for job creators. But it’s not just the tax cuts. Sen. Joe Manchin has voted no time and again on the policies that West Virginia needs,” Pence added.

Manchin responded with a statement saying: “The vice president’s comments are exactly why Washington sucks.”

Pence also said at the event that taxes and federal regulations prompted Worldwide Equipment chief executive Terry Dotson to give bonuses to all the company’s 1,100 employees and move ahead with plans for a new dealership in Charleston, South Carolina.

Jenkins said Friday that “The vice president just simply told the facts, and Manchin then (responded) with some pretty odd language. … Joe doesn’t like being held accountable for his voting record in Washington. The vice president said it straight and said it right. And the people of West Virginia needed to know.”

Manchin also said in response to Pence’s attack on him, “I am shocked that after the vice president worked for almost a year in a divisive and partisan way to take healthcare away from almost 200,000 West Virginians, bankrupt our hospitals, and push tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and huge corporations that he would come to West Virginia and continue his partisan attacks.”

Fox News’ Peter Doocy and the Associated Press contributed to this report.