GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Even as some continue to deride the omnibus spending bill that passed Congress on the final days of 2022, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) is shining her light on the $25.56 million in projects for which she secured funding in that bill.
“We had the opportunity to fund community projects and bring taxpayer funds back to the community,” Manning said in a Zoom conversation with WGHP.
The omnibus bill, which included nearly $1.7 trillion to fund all aspects of government into 2023, was passed by the House, amended in the Senate and then passed again by the House before being sent to President Joe Biden in the last week of the year.
Manning, whose 6th Congressional District includes all of Guilford and Rockingham counties, virtually all of Caswell County and a chunk of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, said she had “a lot of conversations with the chair of the Appropriations Committee to make sure our projects were in the bill that the House then approved and sent to the Senate.”
Then she said she made sure “all 15 got approved in the omnibus.”
She created the list by putting out a request for applications and then sorting through the responses to pick those that she felt had “a broad impact on the community.”
She said her goals were to “help job development … learning loss from COVID … community safety and environmental repairs.”
The covered projects
The projects range from $4 million to $75,000 and include significant urban infrastructure projects, feeding the hungry and helping a fire district. They cover the full scope of education, including child care, and serve regionally. The complete list:
- $4 million to the city of High Point for the Small-Scale Manufacturing Equitable Opportunity project.
- $4 million to the city of Greensboro for the Elm-Eugene Street Gateway Complete Streets project.
- $2.8 million to the city of Winston-Salem for the Runnymede Water Infrastructure Improvements project.
- $2.42 million to the town of Kernersville for the Beeson Creek Stream Restoration.
- $2.2 million to Guilford County Schools for wraparound services, academic support, and learning hubs.
- $2 million to the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship for the Steelhouse Center for Urban Manufacturing and Innovation.
- $2 million to the city of High Point for a Commercial Shared-Use Kitchen.
- $1.5 million to the Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA for childcare expansion.
- $1,342,840 to Winston-Salem State University for the Intergenerational Center.
- $1 million to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina for accelerating food assistance and job training.
- $1 million to the United Way of Greater Greensboro for job counseling, career training, and supportive services.
- $621,000 to One Step Further Inc. for the Gate City Coalition/Cure Violence Model Program.
- $301,548 to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools for teacher academy programs.
- $300,000 to Guilford Child Development for a child development associate apprenticeship program.
- $75,000 to the Pleasant Garden Fire Department, Inc. for the Real Time UTV Response.
A new term
This was the crowning moment at the end of Manning’s first term. She easily won re-election against Republican Christian Castelli in November, earning nearly 54% of nearly 254,000 votes cast. But her second term won’t be quite like those first two years.
Republicans now have a slight margin of control and recently elected Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) in a contentious, 15-round vote.
Manning said she would continue to serve on two key committees: Education & Labor and Foreign Affairs, which she said, “has a very important role to play, and I plan on being a very active member.”
Antisemitism and other issues
Manning, one of 33 Jewish members of the House and Senate, also co-chairs the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Antisemitism.
“Not only is it very distressing for the Jewish community, but antisemitism always has been a signal that there is an increase in other discrimination, other bigotry and bias,” she said. “And so when we see a rise in antisemitism, it should be something that everybody worries about because antisemitism is often, as they say, ‘the canary in the coal mine.’”
Manning also this week voted against the elimination of IRS agents and a bill called “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” that was said to address care for babies but she and other Democrats viewed it as unnecessary and interfering with family decisions.
Manning Q&A about this term
In a wide-ranging interview with WGHP, Manning addressed that and many other topics, including the new 7-7 split between Democrats and Republicans in the North Carolina delegation and the fictitious resume of her newly disgraced colleague George Santos. Here is that exchange, lightly edited for context.
How were you able to get so many local projects in the omnibus spending bill that came back from the Senate?
REP. KATHY MANNING: We had the opportunity once again to bring home community projects. That’s our taxpayer money that we are bringing to invest in our own community. We put information out there to the whole community to let them know that we were taking applications for community projects.
Our priority was for projects that would have a broad, positive impact on our community. And we were looking for projects that would help economic development, job development, job training, and to help kids who had learning loss because of COVID. Projects that would have an impact on community safety and on some environmental repairs throughout the community. Some child-care assistance. And we got great programs. We had a good process to make sure the programs that we were submitting were the programs that met all the qualifications.
We got all of our 15 projects approved and in the omnibus. We are thrilled to be able to bring home funds that will have a positive impact across the 6th district.
What is this process?
MANNING: Early on last year, we were allowed to submit our community projects. I fought for all the projects that we thought were best. Then I had a lot of conversations with the chair of the Appropriations Committee to make sure our projects were in the bill that the House then approved and sent to the Senate. We fought hard to make sure that the Senate left those projects in there.
Why was the Biologics Transparency Act, which you sponsored and which was included in the omnibus, important?
MANNING: It’s one of my bills, but it’s a bipartisan bill. No. 1, we want to increase transparency with what goes on in the pharmaceutical market. And we want people to know what biologic medicines are being pulled off the market. One thing that can do is decrease competition, which often can increase the price.
We see this transparency requirement as something that will give us a heads-up if there is going to be less competition and perhaps see price increases. We know how important a lot of those biologic medications are to people, and we want to do everything that we can to make sure that people can get access to the medications that they need and that pharmaceutical companies aren’t doing things that decrease competition and allow them to increase prices.
There have been a couple of significant, recent public displays of antisemitic rhetoric in North Carolina. Given your role with the bipartisan committee, have you been involved in responding to those?
MANNING: Actually, I read about those issues. I monitor papers across the district and across the state. I did learn about those antisemitic incidents. … It is distressing but not surprising. We have seen a dramatic rise in antisemitism frankly across the country and around the globe. I’m privileged to be the lead co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Antisemitism, working with colleagues on the Senate side. Also working closely with the [Biden] administration. We are deeply concerned about the rise of antisemitism, of violent antisemitism, across the country. We are seeing it in high schools and on college campuses. We are seeing it in business, and we’re seeing it in the entertainment sector.
Not only is it very distressing for the Jewish community, but antisemitism always has been a signal that there is an increase in other discrimination, other bigotry and bias. And so when we see a rise in antisemitism, it should be something that everybody worries about because antisemitism is often, as they say, ‘the canary in the coal mine.”
Can you put your finger on why this is happening?
MANNING: Look, antisemitism is one of the oldest forms of discrimination. It’s been around for 2,000 years. It has shape-shifted over the millennia. Today, whenever you have times when people are under stress, they look for somebody to blame things on. Traditionally throughout history the Jewish community has been an easier scapegoat. We have a lot of people experiencing distress. We have seen an increase in mental health problems, partially as a result of the pandemic and people feeling isolated.
We also have seen the rise of people buying into conspiracy theories that are so easily spread on the internet. Algorithms work on some of our social media platforms so that someone who looks at one article about a conspiracy theory gets led down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.
I recently met with two members of the British Parliament and talked about how they are addressing it in the United Kingdom. They said they had put together programs to educate people about antisemitism, about what it is and how dangerous it is. … Particularly conspiracy theories because so many people just don’t understand the damage that conspiracy theories can cause. I also recently met with government officials and nonprofit leaders from Germany, and we had that same kind of discussion. It’s something that’s happening around the world, particularly in the United States and Europe. We appreciate the focus of the Biden administration about this issue.
Has your office continued to hear from the public about the immigration facility that is going to open at the former American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro?
MANNING: When I read your report, we immediately put a call in to our contact at DHHS, because I want to make sure I can get some clear answers about what is going on, about when the facility is likely to open. I’d also like to have a better understanding of the financial implications of what’s happening.
Setting aside the issue that the GOP controls the House for these next two years, how do you anticipate your second term will differ from your first?
MANNING: Well, we certainly had a different beginning. It took the Republicans a week to do something that it took the Democrats an hour. So it was quite a different beginning.
The only thing that I thought was good about the chaos, confusion and corruption that we saw on the House floor while the Republicans were trying to elect a leader, the American people were actually able to see what was going on the House floor.
CSPAN was able to focus its cameras in on conversations that were going on on the House floor. I thought that transparency was terrific. I had nonstop emails and texts from constituents who were fascinated about what was going on on the House floor. It generated a lot of interest about what goes on. I think that transparency was good. I think it was good for people to see the discussions that were going on.
Your college Richard Hudson (R-Southern Pines) actually stopped a melee and physical confrontation (between Mike Rogers and Matt Gaetz).
MANNING: I actually texted Richard Hudson on Saturday. I said, ‘Thank you for stopping things from getting worse.’ We had a nice text exchange. He was right there. … I would just like to note that the Democrats were unified. We voted consistently for a leader [Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.J)] who I think is extraordinary and who in his speech showed himself to be a remarkable speaker and a leader with real vision. And someone who is able to be inspiring to the American people.
Which of your committee appointments do you see as the most significant?
MANNING: Because the Republicans have the majority, the ratios – the number of Democrats who are allowed to be on committees – will decrease. Fortunately, I’m on two great committees that I will continue to serve on. I’m on Education & Labor. As you know, I have, I think, 11 colleges and community colleges in the new district. … So I’m delighted to stay on Education & Labor, where I will fight so people across our district can get access to the best education and workforce development opportunities. And I will continue the Foreign Affairs Committee. In light of what is going on around the world, I think the Foreign Affairs Committee has a very important role to play, and I plan to be a very active member.
What about the George Santos matter? Is that a distraction?
MANNING: I don’t see it as a distraction for us. I think what we saw is someone who has lied about basically everything on his resume. It’s a shame that the Republicans did not vet their own candidates before supporting him heavily for that office. One of the things I think we will see going forward is that he contributed $700,000 to his own campaign. And based on information that has come to light, there is no explanation about how he came to have $700,000 in his personal funds. This is someone who was under investigation in his home country [Brazil] for bouncing checks or stealing a checkbook. He has been evicted several times. So I suspect there already is an FEC [Federal Elections Commission] investigation underway, because it seems fairly likely that he did not comply with FEC disclosure requirements for candidates.
You now have more Democratic colleagues – four rookies – with the 7-7 split in the North Carolina delegation. How are you helping the rookies?
MANNING: We just had a meeting of the Democratic of the North Carolina delegation and with all Democrats in our region – we are in Region 7. And while we do have four new members [Don Davis in the 1st District, Valerie Foushee in the 4th, Wiley Nickel in the 13th and Jeff Jackson in the 14th], I don’t think I would call them rookies. They have all served in the North Carolina General Assembly for many, many years. They’ve all worked together. So they already have relationships with each other. I think they are going to be wonderful members who make North Carolina proud.
So is the House going to vote to abolish the IRS and the tax code?
MANNING: I think it is appalling that the first thing the Republicans did with their new majority is to pass a bill to protect tax cheats and to delay tax refunds for the American people. I think the highest volume of calls we get in my district office is from people who are having trouble getting their tax refunds from the IRS. What Republicans have done in passing this bill is to ensure that those people will continue to have trouble getting their refunds basically by defunding the IRS. With all problems in this world and this country, it seems shocking that Republicans’ first order of business was to protect tax cheats and make it more difficult for the American people to get their tax refunds.