A certain West Virginia household is in line for even more political clout: On Friday, President Joe Biden announced he will nominate Gayle Conelly Manchin, wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), to co-chair the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal board that directs government efforts to improve opportunities in the Appalachian region. Sen. Manchin, a centrist Democrat, is the key swing vote in the evenly divided U.S. Senate, and he has already proven his ability to make or break the entire party’s agenda. Democratic leaders are leaning on him hard to support a sweeping bill to rework the nation’s election system, as well as a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure package.
Gayle Manchin, a former president of West Virginia’s board of education who has held various state offices, will require Senate confirmation to co-chair the ARC, which has jurisdiction over parts of 14 states in the region; West Virginia is the only state entirely in the board’s purview. In 2020, it had a $175 million budget to invest in economic and quality-of-life developments across the region.