A The commission headed by the wife of West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin would receive $ 1 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Gayle Conelly Manchin co-chairs the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development partnership between the federal government and 13 Appalachian states. She is working in partnership with a co-chair from one of the states in the region (currently Democratic Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam) to head the commission and was appointed to that position by President Joe Biden and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in April.
The $ 1 billion distributed over five years, which was originally part of Biden’s U.S. Jobs Plan infrastructure proposal that preceded the bipartisan bill, would fund the Partnerships for Opportunity initiative and workforce and economic revitalization. The program provides grants to communities affected by job losses in the coal industry.
In a May statement, Gayle Conelly Manchin said the billion dollars would help the commission “more adequately meet the overwhelming needs of communities affected by job losses resulting from the decline of the coal industry.” These ARC grants will be critical to the long-term diversification and economic growth of the Appalachians. “
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The increased funding for the bill would mark a significant increase in funds for the program. According to the commission, the POWER initiative “has invested more than $ 238 million in 293 projects affecting 353 Appalachian counties since 2015”. The projects funded so far have mostly been concentrated in southwest West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal 2022 also requested $ 235 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission, including $ 72 million for the POWER initiative.
Gayle Conelly Manchin has a long resume with experience in community development projects including as an educator and director of the community service program at Fairmont State University and as secretary of education and the arts of Virginia. -Western under Republican Governor Jim Justice.
Senator Joe Manchin, considered the most centrist member of the Senate Democratic caucus and a decisive vote for Democrats, was part of a bipartisan group of senators who crafted the bill, which includes $ 550 billion in new spending over five years.
Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bill’s funds going to the commission. But he said in a statement on his wife’s confirmation in the post that the commission “is a vital partner for all who work and live in the Appalachians, and I know Gayle will bring the experience and skills to lead with it. success of the commission in the service of the region. “
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It is not uncommon for the spouses of powerful legislators to occupy Senate appointed positions. The wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao, was transportation secretary to then-President Donald Trump.
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Keywords: News, Joe Manchin, Congress, West Virginia, Infrastructure
Original author: Emily brooks
Original location: Infrastructure bill includes $ 1 billion in commission handled by Manchin’s wife