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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Senators representing West Virginia — one of the smallest, whitest and most pro-Trump states in the country — have been holding a Democratic-controlled Senate, House and White House from knocking out big agenda items.

What's happening: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) failed to reach an infrastructure deal with President Biden. And Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has consistently refused to support several of his party’s initiatives, such as voting rights legislation.

Why it matters: In a representative democracy, lawmakers rightfully represent the interests of their constituents. But the raw demographics of West Virginia differ from those of the rest of the country affected by Capito and Manchin's actions.

  • The state has experienced the fastest rate of population decline in the nation, according to census data.
  • It looks completely different than the rest of the U.S.: 92% of the population is non-Hispanic white, making it the third-whitest state in a rapidly diversifying country.
  • It also has the lowest percentage of people with a bachelor's degree or higher, and was the state that had the second-highest margin in favor of Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Go deeper

Jun 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden, Capito abandon infrastructure talks

President Joe Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito during a May 13 meeting. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Infrastructure negotiations between President Biden and a group of Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) have officially broken down, and Biden now plans to turn his attention toward striking a deal with a separate, bipartisan group of senators, administration officials said Tuesday night.

What we're hearing: When Biden and Capito spoke by phone on Tuesday, the call only lasted a few minutes, and it was clear that the two sides remain too far apart to find a compromise.

Jun 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus pushes for infrastructure deal with WH

Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus at the U.S. Capitol in December. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The leaders of a bipartisan coalition of Congress members spoke to White House officials about efforts to reach an infrastructure deal on Tuesday, a House aide familiar with the call told Axios.

Driving the news: Problem Solvers Co-Chairs Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) are pushing for a $1.249 trillion bipartisan agreement after negotiations between President Biden and a Republican group led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) broke down earlier Tuesday.

Jun 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

First look: 90 groups urge Biden to pass infrastructure through reconciliation

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), during a break in bipartisan infrastructure talks Tuesday. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some 90 advocacy groups want President Biden and Democratic leaders to abandon bipartisan infrastructure negotiations and instead use the partisan reconciliation process to enact a more progressive package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: An open letter being released by the group Wednesday morning comes immediately after Biden decided to end talks with Republican senators, led by Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and turn his attention toward striking a deal with a separate, bipartisan group.