President Joe Biden is set to nominate the wife of swing vote Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) to a cushy government position paying over $160,000 annually, the White House announced in a news release Friday.
In the release, the White House noted that the new president looks forward to appointing Gayle Conelly Manchin, a former president of the West Virginia Board of Education, for federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.
According to ARC’s website, the commission “is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region.”
In her role as co-chair, Manchin will aim to spur economic growth in the region, spanning from Pennsylvania to northern Mississippi. If confirmed by the Senate, Manchin would replace Tim Thomas in the role, which, according to the Washington Times, pays $163,000 a year.
According to the readout, Manchin is a longtime educator who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Language Arts and Education and a Master of Arts in Reading from West Virginia University, and a second master’s specialization in Educational Technology Leadership from Salem International University.
While certainly qualified for the role, her appointment is likely to raise eyebrows considering her relationship to a sitting member of Congress. The move will certainly draw some scrutiny from conservatives for being overtly political, especially since her husband, a moderate, is seen as a key swing vote in the gridlocked Senate.
Though Democrats control both chambers of Congress as well as the presidency, their advantage in the upper chamber is as narrow as it gets — split 50-50 between lawmakers who regularly vote with each party. Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris breaks ties.
Given the balance of power, Joe Manchin has become a pivotal figure in the Senate, and one who could quite literally decide whether or not many of Biden’s policy priorities become law.
He angered progressives earlier this year after he tanked the nomination of Neera Tanden, Biden’s controversial pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Likewise his eventual support for Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill effectively blocked Republicans from having any meaningful influence on the legislation.
It was not immediately clear when Gayle Manchin’s confirmation vote would come before the Senate.
Author: Phil Shiver