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Carte Goodwin Clears Path for Senate to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Carte Goodwin

Democrats have a chance to extend unemployment benefits, now that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin has appointed his former aide, Carte Goodwin, to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd. The party cannot expect Goodwin to support climate change legislation that puts a price on carbon, however.

Manchin announced Friday afternoon that Goodwin, 36, will be sworn in as the youngest senator in office to fill the seat left vacant by Byrd, who was the oldest senator in office when he died last month at the age of 92.

Goodwin confirmed that he will not run to continue representing the state in the special election expected to take place this November. Manchin has said he is interested in running. Goodwin did, however, say he is ready to make the most of his short term.

"I'm anxious to roll my sleeves up," he said.

His vote will prove critical in the first hour of his service in the Senate, said Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the senior senator from West Virginia. Goodwin will be sworn in on Tuesday afternoon, and minutes later, the Senate intends to vote on extending unemployment benefits, a proposal that has so far been blocked by a Republican filibuster.

"Carte Goodwin will make the 60th vote in what is a very necessary piece of legislation," Rockefeller said. "We will take up and pass unemployment legislation."

Goodwin said, however, he cannot support his party's interest in passing a comprehensive energy bill that includes a cap and trade system.

"With regard to cap and trade, from what I've seen of the Waxman-Markey bill," Goodwin said, referencing the cap and trade bill passed in the House, "they simply are not right for West Virginia."

He said he would be more in favor of the legislation Rockefeller, is championing, which Goodwin said "recognizes the practical effect of coal."

"I will not support any piece of legislation that threatens any West Virginia job," Goodwin said, adding that it's obvious "how strongly West Virginians feel on the issue" of energy legislation.