West Virginia Senate Race: Two Currently Serving House Members Amidst Evolving Field

With Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) not seeking a six term, the choices for West Virginian voters is currently wide open with at least 15 potential candidates either considering or outright running (depending on what source you are looking at). Two of the possibilities, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV), are serving at the federal level but what might West Virginians see from either of these Members if they were elected? While some will rely on rankings and what pledges might or might not be signed, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) offers a historical comparison of what each potential candidate has supported and might support in the future.

That comparison comes in the form of the BillTally project, which is the only comprehensive research system to score EVERY introduced bill in Congress for new potential spending or savings to taxpayers. We score the measures (as introduced) and then link them to the sponsors and cosponsors because NTUF seeks to show the true fiscal intentions of federal legislators. You can search for your Member's or Senators' line-by-line BillTally report here.

I compiled the proposed spending agendas of Representatives Capito and Rahall and found some legislative patterns. But, first off, I have the available BillTally data on both legislators averaged out* and their last three Congresses' totals.

Proposed Spending Agendas of
Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV)
(in millions of dollars)
Career Average
Note: NTUF has yet to finalize and release data for the entire 112th Congress. These figures are based on the BillTally First Session report.
Source: NTUF BillTally System

Congressman Nick Rahall has been in Congress since 1977 and served as Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources from 2007 to 2011. In the 113th Congress, he is the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is the 9th most senior currently serving Representative. Delving into his ten Congresses worth of BillTally data, he has repeatedly supported a number of measures that would either increase federal spending or decrease the budget (by either increasing offsetting receipts, which the Congressional Budget Office counts as decreases in spending, or actual cuts in projected costs.

Recurring Spending Proposals:

  • Guaranteeing a Cost-of-Living Adjustment for retirees and veterans
  • Ensuring better access to Community Health Centers
  • Instituting a single-payer health care system
  • Molding the Department of Defense into a Department of Peace

Some Spending Cut Proposals (no recurring measures):

  • Increasing oil and gas royalty payments when exploration occurs on federal lands
  • Limiting the EPA in regulating green house emissions
  • Permitting prescription drug importation
  • Reforming procedures related to civil asset forfeiture
  • Transferring Medicare funds to Department of Veterans Affairs health care programs
Proposed Spending Agendas of
Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
(in millions of dollars)
Career Average
Note: NTUF has yet to finalize and release data for the entire 112th Congress. These figures are based on the BillTally First Session report.
Source: NTUF BillTally System

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito has served in the House since 2001 and serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She also chairs the House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee. Similar to Congressman Rahall, Representative Capito's spending agenda is a mix of both spending increase and cut legislation but her overall number of pieces of supported legislation is lower than her potential counterpart.

Recurring Spending Proposals:

  • Creating a refundable health care credit for Americans with individual insurance
  • Making some immigration system and border control changes

Recurring Spending Cut Proposals:

However, both Representatives are not polar opposites on every issue. They have proposed similar measures including:

  • Offering Social Security lump sum payments in place of their regular yearly benefit payouts
  • Providing more federal funds for services supporting disabled Americans
  • Ensuring Department of Veterans Affairs health programs receive necessary funding
  • Removing benefits caps for military veterans and government workers so that they can receive full concurrent benefits

Both Capito and Rahall have also at one time during their legislative career supported the co-called Doc-Fix, which is a spending increase made each year for medical care compensation made to doctors providing care to Medicare patients.

* BillTally was created in 1991 so Congressman Rahall's agendas are taken from the entirety of BillTally's existence. I did not assume or include any proposals or spending from before that time.