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WV Sen. Manchin: GOP actions 'disgusting'

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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., missed a vote on defunding the Affordable Care Act.

But his reason -- because he was in West Virginia to attend a funeral and visit his ill mother -- has become the target of barbs between Manchin and the West Virginia Republican Party.

Manchin said in a March 14 news release he has already voted twice to defund the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. He condemned the West Virginia Republican Party via news release for "lying" when it claimed he voted "present" on the bill.

"Today's lie by the West Virginia Republican Party about my missed vote to attend my cousin's funeral and visit my ill mother represents the most disgusting part of politicians a perfect example of why reaching bipartisanship and common sense solutions to the problems our state and nation face have become so difficult," Manchin said in the news release. "The West Virginia Republican Party would be wise to check their facts next time before they lie about my record and lie to the people of West Virginia."

On March 14, the GOP flooded social media with a graphic showing Manchin sitting with President Barack Obama superimposed with a quote from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that says:

"The very first priority of every elected official – democrat and republican – should be restoring economic growth, so we can ensure continued strength, and opportunity for the next generations. Obamacare does precisely the opposite. It is already hurting small businesses, reducing the hours Americans are allowed to work, forcing employers to drop coverage, and leading to substantial increase in health care premiums—especially for young people. And if Obamacare is fully implemented, it will create an even further drag on the economy, killing jobs, and making it harder for those struggling to climb the economic ladder."

More text on the graphic says "Sen. Joe Manchin isn't standing up for West Virginia. He isn't representing the hardworking people that put him in office. Joe Manchin is playing politics."

The GOP also issued a news release March 14, saying Manchin's act is "another show of political cowardice."

"It's never a big surprise to see Sen. Manchin playing both sides of an issue," said West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas. "But given a choice between the ObamaCare bill that will destroy family budgets and kill jobs, and trying to keep our health care freedoms .. Manchin can't choose either one. That's the opposite of leadership. It's failure to act."

Cruz introduced the amendment to HR 933. All 45 Republicans voted for the amendment and 52 Democrats voted against. The amendment was rejected.

After Manchin issued his statement, the GOP issued a second statement. While the Republican Party offers courtesy and prayers in time of need, Lucas said Manchin does have a duty to the voters.

"But we also owe it to the taxpayers and the owners of the state to make sure he casts every vote on important issues and makes clear his stance on the liberal ObamaCare," Lucas said in the statement. "The Senator has made a habit of waffling on tough issues. Skipping yet another ObamaCare vote seems standard in his habitual fence-sitting."

The second GOP news release included this timeline of Manchin's week:

5:30 PM Monday, March 11- Senate begins roll call vote for Federal Judge Taranto of Maryland. Manchin votes Yes. No other official business that day.

Tuesday, March 12- No Roll Call votes all day.

10:53 AM Wednesday, March 13- Senate begins debate on Cruz Amendment to prohibit further Federal funds to ObamaCare implementation.

2:02 PM Wednesday, March 13- Senate votes to defeat Cruz Amendment (#30, to HR 933) on a party line vote. Manchin listed as "Not Voting." No excuse for the absence is stated or noted in the record as requested. The verbatims of the Senate floor activity indicate that Sen. Durbin acknowledges Manchin as "necessarily absent."

5:34 PM Wednesday, March 13- Three hours later, Senate votes on Senate Amendment #33 (McCain) to HR 933. Manchin votes No. Has conveniently missed the controversial vote on the Cruz Amendment.

A spokesman for Manchin said the senator attended the funeral in the morning, but immediately drove back to Washington, D.C. afterward. That's why Manchin was able to cast the vote later Wednesday afternoon.