February 7, 2023
Ways & Means holds WV field hearing
The House Ways and Means Committee held a "Field Hearing on the State of the American Economy: Appalachia" February 6 at Allegheny Wood Products in Petersburg, WV, the first full hearing of the Ways and Means Committee in this Congress. Witnesses aired the concerns of area business owners and operators, including food and energy costs and supply chain and workforce issues, and members relitigated the benefits of laws including the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
In an opening statement, Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) continued to call for refocusing the Committee's work toward individuals and small businesses, and away from corporations. "[O]ver the last few years, this committee's work — and that of Congress — has drifted from the needs of these good people," he said. "We must course correct. We must prioritize the voices in rooms like this one, and not those of the Washington political class." He said more field hearings would follow.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) represented Democrats at the hearing and touted the IRA's tax credits and rebates that will lower energy costs in facilitating replacing older appliances and utilities and making repairs and improvements to homes to increase efficiency.
Much of the Q&A portion of the hearing focused on issues related to the coal industry, cost of living and inflation, supply chain and trade, and health care costs.
Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) said the Biden administration's "war on coal" has had a devastating impact on the state. She asked about keeping children in WV beyond their college years. Ward said the biggest hurdle is creating jobs.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) joined members of the Ways and Means Committee at the hearing and asked about supply chain failures. Plaugher said those issues pose challenges to the basic function of the production schedule. In response to a question about work opportunity in the region, Bachman said there is work opportunity, but there can be a lack of motivated workers, and she has experienced issues attracting employees.
Committee Vice Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) discussed his bill to increase the deduction for start-up expenses. Bachman said that would make a huge difference in terms of cash flow. Rep. Buchanan said lawmakers would hopefully change the scheduled phase-out of bonus depreciation under the TCJA. Plaugher said bonus depreciation is very beneficial to his company. Rep. Buchanan further asked about health care costs for small businesses.
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), who is also Republican Study Committee Chair, also asked about the Administration's targeting of the important coal industry. Ward said coal is important as a reliable energy source.
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) railed against "wokeness" and said he is tired of government interference in schooling and targeting the coal industry.
Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) was critical of the IRA and noted legislation he has introduced to prevent the EPA from imposing excessive methane fees on marginal wells.
Materials from the hearing are available here.