Solving the ‘digital divide’: Sen. Capito addresses health care, technology in Mercer visit | News

ELGOOD — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito greeted people in Elgood Saturday when she stopped by for a new water line project groundbreaking ceremony. Capito spent the day in Mercer County, also making stops at Bluefield State College, Mercer County Airport and the DISH Network offices.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wants more done in Washington, and she remains optimistic that the political process can change.

But some cooperation in that direction will have to come from Pres. Donald Trump, she said.

Capito was making her way around Mercer County Friday, and the tour included a stop in the mountaintop community of Elgood between Athens and Glen Lyn, Va.

Residents of that area were celebrating the ground-breaking ceremony of a new water line that will finally bring fresh, clean water to the communities.

That project was made possible through the cooperation of many people working together, a goal that Capito wants to see in the nation’s Capital.

“We need to pull in the same direction,” she said of her Washington colleagues as well as the President.

Capito said it’s not a matter of having divergent overall goals.

“We all want the same things,” including jobs and progress, but the current climate of division “makes it difficult” to make any progress toward coming to an agreement on needed changes.

Criticisms across the board are hurting everyone, she added.

Capito said it’s about leadership, and that is an issue the President needs to address.

It’s not that she is “disappointed” in Trump’s leadership, she said.

“I find it more frustrating,” she said of the nature of his conversations and leadership.

The President’s tweeting has become a part of that issue, she added.

“Tweeting does help to quickly get out a short, succinct message,” she said, and that can be used as a way to effectively inform people of something important and do it all at once.

“But he uses it (tweeting) as a weapon,” she said, and that makes cooperation and working together difficult.

Capito said the health care issue, which failed to find enough Republican votes to advance the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, is over for now.

That was one of the examples of not working together effectively.

Health care may be addressed again, she said, but in a bipartisan spirit of cooperation.

Capito voted to begin the debate to repeal and replace Obamacare, which failed when Sen. John McCain voted against it.

But she has said in the past she will not support any changes that will hurt West Virginians.

“I remain committed to reforming our health care system while also addressing the concerns I have voiced for months,” she said last month. “I will continue to push for policies that result in affordable health care coverage for West Virginians, including those who are in the Medicaid population and those struggling with drug addiction.”

Capito said the focus now should be on infrastructure and tax reform.

“We all have a sense of what we need to do,” she said.

But “pulling together” is an essential part of the process.

While in Elgood, Capito heard residents’ complaints about inadequate broadband and cell service.

That is an issue she is working on, she told them, adding that she understands the importance of having access to both.

She is advancing the Capito Connect Plan, which would expand broadband coverage that meets the unique demands of rural areas.

“It’s important that we take a technology neutral approach to solving the digital divide that is leaving rural America behind,” she said during her Mercer County tour Friday.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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