- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WEST VIRGINIA

W.Va. governor running for Senate

CHARLESTON | Gov. Joe Manchin III, a centrist Democrat who received national attention earlier this year for his handling of a coal mine disaster that killed 29 workers, announced Tuesday that he will run for the late Robert C. Byrd’s U.S. Senate seat.

Mr. Manchin’s announcement ended speculation on whether the popular Democratic governor would swap the 26 months that would remain in his second term for a chance to serve a similar amount of time left in Byrd’s term.


The 62-year-old Mr. Manchin’s national profile has steadily increased since the former state lawmaker captured the governor’s office in 2004 after a term as secretary of state. News audiences around the country saw him comfort victims’ families and rally for improved safety and rescue measures following West Virginia coal mining disasters in 2006 and again this year at the Upper Big Branch mine.

“If I am so fortunate and honored to have the support of the people of West Virginia, I can’t fill his shoes,” Mr. Manchin said of Byrd. “I can only hope to follow his footsteps and serve the people of West Virginia as best I can.”

The governor’s announcement came after he and legislative leaders resolved their differences over the succession process. The legislation, approved late Monday, calls for an Aug. 28 primary and Nov. 2 general election for the seat. It also calls for a four-day candidate filing period, which started Tuesday.

SENATE

Credit card protections sought from Fed

Two lawmakers in Congress are prodding the Federal Reserve to provide more protection so that credit card users don’t get socked by exorbitant interest rates when they fall behind on their payments.

“Credit card companies can still double or triple the interest rate when a consumer falls two months behind on payments” despite new Fed rules, Sens. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, said Tuesday. They made their case in a letter Tuesday to Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

The lawmakers want the Fed to alter the rules, which take effect Aug. 22, to prevent big rate hikes under such circumstances. If the Fed doesn’t act, Mr. Schumer and Mr. Harkin said they’ll seek legislation to compel the Fed to do so. Both lawmakers have championed measures in Congress to provide consumers with stronger protections.

The Fed had no immediate comment on lawmakers’ request.

Congress directed the Fed to implement the new rules in a sweeping law enacted last year.

In writing the rules, the Fed interpreted the law as covering fees and charges not interest rates.

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