The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $1 billion to a commission co-chaired by Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) and Gayle Conelly Manchin — the wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The Appalachian Regional Commission — an “economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments” that seeks to “build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia” — receives $200 million per year through 2026 under the current version of the infrastructure legislation.
As The Washington Examiner reported, Conelly Manchin was “appointed to the post by President Joe Biden and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in April.”
The President’s first budget proposal requested a similar degree of funding — namely, $235 million for fiscal year 2022, as well as $1 billion for the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative spread over five years through the American Jobs Plan.
“The President’s budget demonstrates his steadfast commitment to the work already underway to transform Appalachia’s economic future through ARC’s programs,” said Conelly Manchin in May. “Moreover, the proposed funding for POWER will allow ARC to more adequately meet the overwhelming needs of communities impacted by job losses resulting from the decline in the coal industry. These ARC grants will be instrumental to the long-term diversification and economic growth in Appalachia.”
The Washington Examiner also noted that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would significantly increase funding for the organization; the initiative “has invested over $238 million in 293 projects touching 353 counties across Appalachia” since 2015.
Manchin — who, alongside fellow infrastructure bill supporter Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), is widely considered to be a centrist — is an important vote in the evenly-divided Senate. His opposition to amending the filibuster — which sets the threshold to hold debate in the Senate at sixty votes — has created headaches for Democratic leadership.
Sinema revealed last week that she does not support Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan — which requires lock-step allegiance from Senate Democrats in order to pass President Biden’s agenda without sixty votes.
“I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,” Sinema explained in a statement to The Arizona Republic.
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