U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., attacked obstructionists in Congress for not wanting any legislation to pass with President Barack Obama in the White House because they think “he’s the wrong color.”
Rockefeller made the impassioned speech Tuesday about two hours into a Senate Finance Committee hearing on federal transportation funding. He lamented Congress’ inability to send money where its needed most and offered a few reasons why he thinks it’s happening.
“I don’t understand why that is. I understand part of it has to do with for some, it’s just ‘we don’t want anything good to happen under this president because he’s the wrong color,’” Rockefeller said.
He also pointed to the Tea Party or those in Congress afraid to act because of the potential affect such an action could have on their chances to be re-elected.
“There’s nothing sadder to me than a Republican or Democrat who doesn’t dare do something or vote for something that he or she believes in and we know that he or she believes in it, but they’re afraid of what it might do to their close election,” Rockefeller continued.
The comments from the retiring senator garnered considerable attention, with web-based political site Politico , Vanity Fair magazine, Huffington Post and other publications writing about the comments.
A Rockefeller spokesman declined to elaborate on the senator’s comments.
Rockefeller made the statements in the context of continuing to fund infrastructure improvement projects. Ensuring the structural survival of the country is more important than someone winning or losing an election, Rockefeller said, adding he wishes he made similar comments before now.
“It infuriates me at myself, at myself,” Rockefeller said. “Why haven’t I been more upfront about this in previous sessions? We’ve all seen this coming.”
He goes on to cite the need for continued investment in West Virginia infrastructure, particularly pointing to ongoing problems with bridges forced to hold large industrial trucks.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin doesn’t escape unscathed, either. Rockefeller mentions the recent state decision to cut millions in funding for social service programs while signing a bill that potentially provides millions in tax breaks for The Greenbrier.
“That kind of mentality scares me terribly about the future of our country. And I think I better stop talking,” Rockefeller said.
Tomblin’s spokeswoman didn’t respond to request for comment.
Before he stopped, he also forecast little policy work from the Senate leading up to the General Election in November.
“I’ve used up all my time in asking my question and making my speech but I feel very good about it,” he added.